Well, yesterday’s election results in Wisconsin provided confirmation, should we need it, that telling a public radio reporter, “I don’t smoke rocks and that’s a fact,” is not a winning electoral strategy. Today’s Appleton Post Crescent reports that incumbent Democrat Dave Hansen beat challenger David VanderLeest with 66 percent of the vote.
The Republicans’ preferred candidate failed to get himself on the ballot, which left VanderLeest, whose personal problems (including spousal assault and the aforementioned denial of a crack cocaine habit) did not inspire voter confidence.
There are eight more elections in this long-drawn-out Wisconsin recall effort. The danger here, no matter who wins, is that this makes recall a more normal part of the political process.
That’s exactly what worries Ken Goldstein, a former professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “If recall becomes the norm,” he told Talking Points Memo, “we’ve shortened legislative terms to a year.”
As Han Solo said just before the walls of that trash compactor started to close in, “I got a bad feeling about this.” Look, governing is hard. Legislators sometimes have to make hard votes if they’re actually, you know, going to govern. Reducing legislative terms, in essence, to one year–and bringing the era of the Permanent Campaign down to the state legislative level–cannot make it easier for legislators to accomplish that.
Whatever the results of the Wisconsin recalls (and I for one think the Senate will switch), it makes next year’s politics–and every year past that–even more toxic. That may make for great politics, but it won’t make for good government.