Democracy: Subverting the system

giron-morse-prohibited

Former Colorado Sen. Angela Giron and Sen. John Morse

Yesterday in Colorado there was a recall election. State Senate President John Morse (D) and Senator Angela Giron (D) were booted from office and replaced with Republicans (who had petitioned to get onto the recall ballot). Why? Dereliction of duty? Financial scandals and lawbreaking? Ordering mob hits?

No, nothing so egregious. Nothing illegal or even scandalous. They were ousted from office because they supported Colorado’s newest gun laws. They were the victims of a battle fought in Colorado between the National Rifle Association and NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Those national groups financed and fought over the recall of two people who had been properly elected by the voters of Colorado, two people who could have been voted out of office in the next election if their constituents were unhappy. Morse, in fact, was term-limited and would have been out of office next year anyway.

But no, in a complete subversion of our democratic election system, outside organizations came into Colorado and turned the entire system on its head.

It’s not the first time outside money has come in to influence Colorado elections. But it’s the first time they’ve come in to organize a special recall election to punish legislators for exercising their constitutional rights and obligations.

The system is long established and it works pretty well. At regularly scheduled elections, voters vote for their favorite candidates. The candidate with the most votes wins. If the elected representative displeases the voters, they are free to elect someone else the next time.

This is about democracy and our election system. National organizations steamrolling that system in order to advance their own special interests, whatever they might be, and to punish anyone who opposes them, is subversive in the truest sense of the word. It ought to be unconstitutional. It ought to be illegal.



Categories: guns, Law, Politics

29 replies

  1. I was wondering how the election turned out – been busy most of the day until now. I’m really surprised.
    If so many didn’t like these 2 how did they get elected in the first place?
    One thing about this elected official system, if people don’t like stuff, they can change by elections. It’s not steamrolling or subverting the system.
    Time to get out there and start talking with people and get them to the polls…American way: swing one way – then swing the other. (I know nauseating until the next election, but what can you do…time to make plans)
    Or just let northern CO break off and do their own thing – and then everyone would have the representation they feel they deserve? Right now some there feel the heavy population centers railroad the elections and so their concerns and opinions are being ignored.
    Oh, you do know many mayors have quietly backed out of that Mayor’s group? I don’t know anything about the NRA except people don’t like them.
    Might be interested in this recent Harvard study though:
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/08/27/Harvard-Study-Shows-No-Correlation-Between-Strict-Gun-Control-And-Less-Crime-Violence
    Politics makes me sick. Agree on that for sure.
    That and violence must stop being seen as a solution to problems.
    Which brings us back to the election system which so far is the least destructive and least violent way to make changes to government. Not perfect by any means.

    • No, no, regular elections are not steamrolling or subversive; they are democracy in action. It’s special recall petitions/elections instigated by outsider special interests that are subversive. We aren’t supposed to be governing via vindictive recalls. We’re supposed to be governing with established, routine elections and terms.

      As for those counties that want to split off and form a new state because they are unhappy with how the Colo. legislature is doing business … Where were they during the last election? Didn’t they vote? Didn’t they elect people to represent them? If they’re unhappy those representatives, why not just vote them out of office in the next election? Threatening to secede is ridiculous; just vote!

      • That’s what I’m wondering – where were they the last elections?
        Never cared for recall elections, but they are also part of the system for a reason. (usually some corrupt or moral outrage recently)
        Apparently some of the west’s states do have in their initial agreement when joining the union that they can decided to split at a later date. Who would have thought?
        Boy was I really surprised with the election results.

        • All I know about states splitting is that I read somewhere they have to go through a long tedious process that includes approval in Washington. That alone could tie them up for years. Not to mention that some of the Colorado counties are not contiguous and there are some Wyoming counties that want to be included. Don’t know how they plan to work all that out. Also don’t know if it includes the town that wants to legalize shooting down drones. Interesting state, this.

        • You really think they are serious?
          If so maybe best to jettison the drone killers HA HA
          Who needs TV with reality such a hoot?

        • Yep, the metropolis of Deer Trail (pop. 559) is serious. Big Brother doesn’t think much of the idea, but people have already sent in money for drone-hunting licenses. It will be no loss if the new state of North Colorado includes Deer Trail. It’s one of those tiny towns out east on I-70 that everyone passes at 80 mph.

        • We have some of those backwoods areas around here…with speed traps.
          Now rural West Maryland wants to break off of Maryland over taxes and parts of Northern CA just wants everyone to stay way.
          At a time when the country needs to come together, it seems more and more people are willing to just walk away.

        • Hadn’t heard about the West Maryland proposal but I did hear something about northern CA (and part of OR?) wanting to form a new state. CA is so big/long, I can understand how those in the far north feel they aren’t related to those in the south. Rather like when W. VA split from VA because the mountains cut them off from each other.

          Don’t know if you’re familiar with Deer Trail. Little more than a gas station and a speed trap (very profitable, I imagine, as people coming in from the east smell Denver and start running for the barn. I speak from years of experience. 😉 )

        • Go the wrong road in N CA and meet gun barrels…people serious about not visitor friendly in some parts.
          We’ve only used to eastern route once – high plains forever is too sleep inducing. W.TX is a long stretch, but that Raton Pass – ahhhhh. (And the volcano cone). With mountains running along the west are such an encouraging tease. Views break up the drive. (Hey, enough rain already? Land needs it, but so much will wash after the fires…and then there’s always boulders

        • Yep, OKC to Denver via Kansas is a yawner of epic proportions. I’ve occasionally driven down (or up) through Raton and the scenery helps, but the TX panhandle and western OK are still no fun. Mostly just take the shortest route (KS) and put the hammer down.

  2. I have a theory about how this works. Politics is messy and complicated. Usually, no matter what the issue, there are cogent arguments to be made on either side of it and that’s why people end up responding more to demagoguery than to in-depth arguments. In the case of my own Congressional district, our representative has never to my knowledge uttered a sensible statement on anything, he just parrots the GOP party lines over and over, and the people reelect him.

    On the other hand, I think people like to vent their feelings when it’s just one big single issue. In this case the NRA had only to frame the issue as GUN CONTROL BAD, FREEDOM GOOD. Never mind Columbine, Newtown and Aurora, it is GOOD GUYS WITH A GUN versus BAD GUYS WITH A GUN. However, the method does work both ways, I think. Recently the issue was, ARE HOMOSEXUALS ACTUAL PEOPLE JUST LIKE THE REST OF US?, and the answer actually changed from the NO it used to be to YES.

    But, I agree with you, PT. Recall elections are not a good thing. If someone in office misbehaves, then let them be impeached and tried in the legislatures, but otherwise, let them do the job they were elected to do free of fear of recall, that is, make wise decisions for people who don’t have time for deep thought about complicated matters.

    • Well, I no longer believe in elected representatives who are wiser than those who elected them. That might have been the ideal once upon a time, but we’ve seen too many idiots in Congress to believe it anymore.

      In this recall vote, the vindictive nature of the recall is obvious. The laws at issue are already in effect. Recalling the legislators won’t change that. And if their constituents were angry with them, they could simply have voted them out of office next time. Also, as I noted, one of them was already ineligible for another term. This doesn’t bode well at all for the future of our democratic election process. Still more fallout from the Citizens United decision.

      • Well, I no longer believe in elected representatives who are wiser than those who elected them.

        If that’s true, PT, then would need to jettison our representative democracy format and look for something else. Personally, I’m having trouble thinking of another that might be better.

        A crazy thought occurred to me. Two trends are converging here, recall elections for single issues and social media. How far are we, I wonder, before people begin voting on every contentious issue on their smart phones? Lord, I hope nothing serious comes up on Saturday nights!

        • Yes, I think it’s true in many cases, but certainly wouldn’t dump the entire representative democracy because some idiots get elected. (I do, however, think we should dump the electoral college and if possible, do something about the gerrymandering of districts.)

          The way things are going, your crazy thought doesn’t seem quite as outlandish as I wish it would. Scary!

  3. One small step for the NRA, one big leap backwards for Colorado. A recall election over gun rights sounds like major overkill. Find a bees nest and stir it up. Who voted in the recall election? Probably those people with a passion for the issue. That makes it one-sided. I wonder if that’s typical of recall elections. If it is, then they probably never really represent the will of the majority, only the will of those who have been stirred to action over a specific issue. To me, this doesn’t seem like an issue for a recall election. It seems like an issue that should prompt a movement to change legislation, if that’s what they want, but replacing leadership whole-cloth over one specific piece of legislation seems wrong.

    • The only people who could vote were the people in the districts represented by those senators, the same people who elected them. But with a single issue recall, you’re right, only those passionate about the issue will probably vote. I think it’s appalling that the NRA could come in here and engineer something like this. (Yes, yes, I know many Coloradans are members, but this was the power of the national organization mucking around with our state election system.) Somebody needs to kneecap that organization.

      We also don’t know how honest the voting was. One man demonstrated how he could go into the district, declare his intent to move there, and be able to vote in the election (he was given a ballot but did not actually vote).

      I’ve thought since I moved here that Colorado elections, voting, the state constitution, petitions, recalls, etc., are nuts. A few thousand signatures is all it takes to overturn the will of the majority expressed in general elections, get issues on ballots, change the constitution, etc.

  4. Personally, I think it’s a step in the right direction whenever a population insists on constitutional governance.

    • I’d agree with you if “constitutional governance” means the will of the majority expressed in general elections, but not if you mean a vocal minority ginning up a recall election over a single issue.

      • No, that’s not what “constitutional governance” means. Our constitutional is intended (primarily) to prevent a tyranny of the majority. That is… preventing a popular majority from usurping peoples rights that are guaranteed by virtue of prohibitions placed on government. In our constitution, all jurisdictions of government are prohibited from infringing on the peoples right to keep and bear arms.

        • Thanks for the explanation. Wasn’t sure what you meant. Obviously the NRA thinks Colorado’s new laws infringe on its rights and to vent their anger and frustration, they organized the recall of two (of many!) legislators who voted the legislation into law. Since the laws are already in effect, the proper approach, IMHO, would be to challenge the laws in court.

        • Since I’m not an NRA member and I’m not a Colorado resident, I’m not aware of all the issues… but… I’ve seen a few news feeds on YouTube that seem to illustrate that some of your sheriff’s are of the opinion that whatever new laws were passed aren’t constitutional. Like These

        • You are correct, some of our sheriffs have said they won’t enforce the new laws. In my opinion (A) they are sworn to uphold the law, not pick and choose which law they will enforce, (B) if they won’t enforce the law, they can be replaced, (C) they’re not lawyers and it’s not their job to decide what is or is not constitutional. But I’ve written about all this before. Sometimes Colorado seems to be only one step removed from the Old West.

  5. Sometimes I wonder if the NRA has more power than our own government.

  6. I thought you have to need a reason for a recall election or can they just be asked for at any time? Sorry, not that good w yr election rules… sounds so bizarre this election but money talks I guess.

    • They have to get a certain number of signatures on a petition to get a recall election. What they said on the petition, what they gave as a reason for wanting the recall, I don’t know. Money talks and corporations are people, etc. The NRA has a ton of money and likes to throw its weight around. I resent the hell out of it when they come in messing with my state’s election system. It was our right to elect those senators and our right to vote them out of office (or not) in the next election.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke

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