SUBJECT: FAITH, POLITICS, & SOCIETY!!!!!!!
I don't often write on politics on my blog. As I've often stated, my conservative friends find me too liberal and my liberal friends find me too conservative. I do not belong to any political party -- a decision I made upon ordination in 1998 -- and as long as I live in a state where someone without a party affiliation can still vote in primary elections, I don't see myself joining a political party in the future. I try very hard, albeit imperfectly, to conform my political beliefs and actions to my faith and to the teachings of the Church -- not the other way around. I have friends who span the political spectrum: not just Republicans, Independents, and Democrats; not only liberals, moderates, and conservatives; but ranging even from Socialism to Libertarianism! I don't pick and choose my friends based on my agreement with their political philosophies.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I want to state for the record my opposition to the recall system as it currently operates in the State of Wisconsin. Believe it or not, my opposition has very little to do a preference for Governor Scott Walker over Mayor Tom Barrett. And in my district, there are no senatorial recalls currently going on -- and I don't expect to see one anytime soon. My concern -- a concern which, I might add, was echoed on the editorial page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- is that we are misusing the recall system itself. The system was designed to allow for the removal of a public official involved in malfeasance in public office. (Case in point: the recall of former Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament). The system was never intended as a vehicle to punish a legislator or an executive who makes a policy decision with which one might disagree. That is why we have general elections.
IMPORTANT CONSTITUTIONAL NOTE: WE DO NOT LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY! WE LIVE IN A REPUBLIC; a REPRESENTATIVE Democracy!
We elect legislators and executives to make decisions -- and if we don't like those decisions, we vote them out of office at the next election. On Inauguration Day, 1993, a good friend took me out to lunch to celebrate. Not to celebrate a political victory, because neither of us had voted for the winning candidate (nor had we voted for the SAME candidate!) Why were we celebrating? Because in our country, we experience peaceful changes of administrations; the peaceful handing over of power from one party to the other party. Take a quick look around the globe, and you'll quickly see what a good thing that is!
Using the recall system to try to get rid of a legislator or executive because of a policy dispute has the potential of setting a dangerous precedent. If it succeeds, a Pandora's Box has been opened. The other party will feel forced to respond in kind, and the state will turn into a permanent battleground -- a battleground in which NEITHER party will ever be able to accomplish much.
Once the current madness is over -- regardless of who wins -- I hope that the Wisconsin Legislature will take the necessary steps to amend whatever laws are necessary, and restore the recall process to the parameters for which it was originally intended.