A cheesey recall effort

The $31 million spent on Wisconsin’s state-Senate recall efforts this summer has not been much of an economic boost for the average cheesehead, unless they worked for political advertising agencies or media outlets that ran the ads.

But it is an indication of how petty — and yet outrageously costly — our current penchant for “gotcha” politics has become.

Instead of accepting that elections have consequences and sometimes the other side wins, some folks now believe that immediate retaliation and punishment is appropriate for those successful in pushing their opposing political views.

That’s what occurred in Wisconsin after Republicans won control of both houses of the state Legislature and the governor’s office last year. Gov. Scott Walker pushed through a package of bills limiting collective bargaining for public employees and increasing their contributions to retirement funds. His success came even though Democratic senators fled the state to try to prevent a vote.

In retaliation, Democrats and unions sought to recall a half-dozen GOP state senators who supported Walker. And they hoped to pick up at least three seats to regain control of the Senate.

Outside groups on both sides spent millions. But on Tuesday, four senators avoided recall, a clear victory for the GOP.

Two Democratic state senators face recall elections later this month, and Democratic leaders insist they will proceed with efforts to recall Gov. Walker next year.

Both are unfortunate, as were Tuesday’s recall elections.

We have long held that recall is a tool that should be employed only to get rid of public officials who are negligent in their duties or commit malfeasance. Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans aren’t guilty of that, no matter how unpopular their policies may be with some people.

Ours is a republic, with regular elections to choose our representatives, not a parliamentary system where no-confidence votes can be called at the slightest whim. We’re glad a majority of Wisconsin voters rejected the spiteful recall effort Tuesday.


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