All the usual suspects came out against the California recall campaign. Not only political partisans. But also folks who distrust the democratic process as such especially when it has teeth.
I’m going to leave the topic of the California recall real soon, promise. But let me just get in one point here about the old question of whether we’re a “republic” properly speaking or a “democracy.” Every now and then a reader tells me we’re a republic, not a democracy, so stop using the word democracy. But I think that’s a false alternative, one captured in a recent article by Professor John Lewis.
Lewis claims that the recall is an instance of pure democracy citizens ruling directly rather than through their representatives even though all Californians did is replace one ruler with another ruler. According to the professor, it’s an ad hoc “whim” to get rid of a destructive governor unless that governor is also guilty of “manifest illegality.” But the issue isn’t unfettered democracy or mob rule.
The issue is whether there is a benefit to having democratic checks on our rulers, including the obvious check of being able to fire a guy who gets way out of hand. And the issue isn’t so much the name we give our system as its features. It makes no sense to trust the “representatives of the people” if we can’t trust the people themselves. We don’t want unfettered “mob rule,” but we don’t want unfettered “politician rule” either. Count me in favor of a constitutional democratic republic.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.