One of the main complaints levied against politicians is that so many resort to political shenanigans, and sometimes even hold up their antics as some kind of a “toughness” virtue.
It’s all there to see in this season of endless recall elections. The experience has already shown us that some changes in the laws are necessary. That’s understandable, since who could have considered the possibility of 15 recalls occurring in a two-year span?
Unfortunately, we must count on the very politicians we need to control to write their own rules. That doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in anything worthwhile getting accomplished.
But here are a couple of common-sense observations that should provide some basis for a better brand of politics: Candidates should not misrepresent themselves, and elections should be looked upon as the ultimate authority of the people and not tools for politicians to play with.
Here’s where we stand along those lines at this hour:
At least the recall elections are set the way they should be. All primary elections will be held May 8 and all general recall elections June 5.
Unfortunately, to get there, the Republicans had to recruit a series of “fake” Democrats to run in Democratic primaries.
Now, there is something more than a little distasteful about a fake candidate. A Republican running as a Democrat in order to foul up the process is a candidate misrepresenting himself or herself — and just to be clear, we would say the same thing if it was a Democrat running as a Republican.
Either way, there’s nothing honest about what the parties are doing. It’s wrong, it deceives the voter, and simply adds to public cynicism about the process.
That said, one can hardly blame the Republicans for the strategic move, because they are trying to avoid being put in a disadvantageous position.
Once the Government Accountability Board certified the recalls, by law the next elections had to be held within a specified number of days. If it’s a primary, it pushes back the final election to within 30 days after that.
What the Republicans were facing was the prospect of, for example, Republican Terry Moulton facing his real-life Democratic challenger Kristin Dexter in the May 8 election, at the same time as the Democratic primary for governor is being held.
Of course, that would be a big disadvantage for Moulton, as the Democratic turnout would likely be higher under that scenario. The Democrats, mindful of what’s most to their advantage, were perfectly willing to have it come down that way.
So the Republicans ordered up a fake Democrat to run against Dexter, insuring that May 8 would be a primary in the Moulton recall election, too.
Obviously, the law should allow the scheduling to be done in a way that is not going to
give an advantage to one party or the other. If we can establish that by law, then there is no need for fake candidates in order to affect scheduling. We could have honest elections and leave the “mischief” to juvenile boys.
But to expect our Wisconsin politicians to start acting like grown-ups, like passing election laws to benefit the people instead of themselves, may be a little much to ask.