THE BLOG

Colorado Scoreboard: Gun Lobby 1 - Democracy 0

09/12/2013 04:19 pm ET | Updated Nov 12, 2013

Theoretically the referendum and recall are the purest forms of democracy. The voters without the filter of their elected representatives can place issues on the ballot and remove officials from office. But as in the case of the filibuster, a valuable safeguard to our democratic process has been abused and misused. Through the recall process, Colorado "has ousted two state senators who had been strong supporters of gun control laws". (N.Y. Times 9/12/13) I have no intention of getting into the underlying dispute but rather focus on the process.

The concept of recall goes back to the Articles of Confederation. It is a powerful and necessary tool to reside in the hands of the electorate. But it was never intended to oust elected official for their vote on a single piece of legislation. Think of the havoc that could be raised if that were the case. Congress may soon be called upon to determine whether or not the President should be authorized to use force against Syria. Many citizens are for it; most are against. What would happen to the country if each group sought to recall some or all of members of Congress solely for their vote on this resolution?

But most frightening to me is the gloating and the warnings that have followed this victory. They sound like quotes from Goodfellas. In effect they say: We know where you are. We'll come get you if you do the same thing. All elected officials are subject to approval or rejection when it comes time for re-election. Nothing prevents the voters from rejecting a candidate because of a single vote or series of votes, but this mid-stream intimidation does not serve the public well. Unfortunately, too many elected representatives test the wind before voting because of the effect it may have upon their political future, but that future, absent some wrongdoing, should depend upon a fair review of the candidate's record over the elected term and not a single vote in the middle.

If this is the current practice, then I am ready to sign any recall petition of a legislator who voted to deny or restrict voting rights or limit a woman's right to choose!