The 21st Century has witnessed two decades of protests and unrest in our streets, colleges, and hometowns. Everything from the Occupy Wallstreet to the annual Women’s March has shifted Americans’ views of politics. Unfortunately, protests cannot protect us from the politicians that are still in office that were duly elected by the people. If We the People really want to make a change we need a national Recall Bill.
Recalls aren’t just for cars-we can use them to change elections midterm. Not like the Midterms but in the middle of a politician’s term we can generate a new election to immediately replace them. Currently, nineteen states allow the right to recall politicians by presenting a concern by enough citizens. Each state has different requirements generally beginning with a petition process. That petition is then brought to the state legislature and a new election commences. The fortunate element of recalls is they have a very limited time to campaign which improves hegemony from voters. The recall of Gray Davis actually increased voting totals by 11%-when we have had enough we prove it.
Recalls are normally used in local to statewide political battles. According to Ballotpedia, there were 151 recalls in 2019. Only 52% of the recalls were successful, one loss due to a single typo on a petition. The odds may seem worse than a night in Vegas but it does give people more options especially on the hyper-local level. City council members were the most recalled politicians with 90 and mayors and vice mayors the second with 45. These numbers prove that people understand that all politics is local. If people cannot have respect and fair representation on the hyper-local level expect big changes in the top tiers.
Federal political representatives are protected since the Constitution does not allow their recalls. Instead, we can spend millions on an impeachment. Impeachments don’t help us with our federal officials since it’s a pay to play system. The Trump impeachment just like the Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton impeachments were party power plays that strictly enforced partisanship. Our representatives receive favors for their votes for or against impeachment. The best option to rid yourself of your Congressional member is expulsion. But that means two-thirds of the Senate or House must find them in disfavor. That has only happened twenty times in history with seventeen occurring during the Civil War.
A national amendment to the Constitution is our only hope. It would take a national movement but it could work. The protests need to focus on the changes we want to see as We the People-the power of the country. A national amendment requiring all states grant the people the ability to recall any official, not just local and state officials. Instead of just nineteen states, it would be all fifty. It would begin with a petition process similar to Alaska’s local official recall process. A recall could occur after 120 days in office for misconduct, failure to perform duties and/or incompetence. The petitions only need 25% of the previous vote total and provide 120 days to properly petition. These requirements are simple and effective. It also provides the politician ample time to become competent and pass legislation that would help their constituency. On the other hand, it gives the people ample time to rev the engine of the disgruntled voters. Either way, We the People need more power to reset our electoral night mistakes. If each vote counts, then each re-vote should too.