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Here’s A California Idea That Could Actually Help The Country

Californians have twice forced governors into recall elections under the state’s 1911 law, the first time to can a real flop of a chief executive, the second time putting a scare into a man who deserved to be fired and humiliated.

Through a popular vote, Californians got rid of Gray Davis in 2003 and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gavin Newsom, however, survived the recall of 2021, but at least voters had a chance to make a regime change before the regularly scheduled election.

Too bad all American voters don’t have the same opportunity to correct their mistakes when voting for presidents, as the voters in 19 states do when they’ve had enough of their “leaders.”

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow for recalls but presidents of course can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” and then removed from office if the Senate convicts on the charges.

But the legal process of impeachment has its shortcomings. In particular, the replacement might even be worse than the person who was dismissed. That’s why Vice President Kamala Harris has been called Biden’s “impeachment insurance.” As unfit as Biden has been, and will continue to be, the cackling and inane Harris might even be worse.

The impeachment inquiry launched in the U.S. House is the correct course by Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The American people deserve to know if their president is a crook, and there’s abundant evidence that that’s exactly what Biden is. He has also had thus far a ruinous term, following Barack Obama’s agenda of “fundamental transforming the United States of America.”

The country is far worse off today than it was when this president took office in 2021, and Americans know it. Biden is a national embarrassment, as well, continually stumbling over stairs and his own words. In his declining physical and mental state, he is in no condition to deal with the tasks of the presidency. He needs to go.

But, with the Senate under control of the Democrats, impeachment is unlikely to result in the removal of Biden. There’s no path to the two-thirds vote needed to convict. Biden also has his otherwise malfunctioning insurance taking up space in the Naval Observatory.

A California-style recall, a political rather than legal mechanism, is much less messy, and presents more options. Voters could at the same time bust the Biden regime and elect a replacement, who would have to run for reelection in the 2024 general election.

Most likely, the new president would be a Republican. In California’s 2021 recall, the Democratic Party didn’t put any serious candidates on the replacement ballot. It could have easily been seen as the party challenging the incumbent, or taken as an indication that it had little confidence in Newsom winning on the recall ballot.

Yes, we realize that, given the blistering hatred for Donald Trump stirred up by the media and Democrats, he could have been recalled before he lost in 2020. That’s fair. In 2013, 52% of those age 18 to 24, who were among Obama’s biggest supporters the year before, were in favor of recalling him.

We’re not looking for perfection here, anyway, only improvement.

We further realize that the power of recall would also give the Democrats a popular vote for the presidency, which they have wanted since at least 2000, when Al Gore took more overall votes but lost in the Constitution’s Electoral College.

The latter could be overcome, though, if the amendment needed to change the Constitution to allow recalls kept the Electoral College in place.

Most Americans would probably be surprised that amending the Constitution to establish a provision for presidential recall elections has been tried before. The idea didn’t get far, but in 1951, Republican New Jersey Sen. Robert Hendrickson proposed an amendment that would set down guidelines for recalling presidents. Under his plan, a recall vote would be held if it had the approval of two-thirds of the state legislatures.

“Four years is too long a time to wait for the correction of policies which the people feel they cannot bear,” Hendrickson argued. 

It’s hard to disagree with that reasoning.

Editor’s note: This editorial was inspired by a post at California Political Review.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Interesting. The ’51 proposal looks suspiciously like Article V, where 2/3ds of the states can demand a constitutional convention; any amendment passed by the convention requiring approval by 3/5ths of the states.

    So, why not apply the same requirements to presidential recall? 2/3ds of the state legislatures must apply for a recall election, which would be a “simple” yes or no question, the majority popular vote in 3/5ths of the states would be required for passage. Or, possibly, the vote could elect a slate of electors as at present, with the vote of 3/5ths of the electors required for passage.

    Perhaps presidential recall is something the on-going Convention of States campaign might consider placing on its agenda.

    What an interesting idea. Thanks.

  • It would be a mess, and a nationwide recall a logistic nightmare. As it is, we spend most of a four-year term in election mode for the next one. And as soon as the Electoral College narrowly elected one, a sore loser “popular” vote could override it with a recall. We’d go through presidents faster than meme fads.

  • I would tend to agree with the concept of recall elections for President, but for the way replacement is done. Currently, the rules of succession require that the replacement be the Vice-President. This would not eliminate the poor decisions made by the ousted President.

    I think a better solution would be limitations on what the different executive branch agencies would be permitted to accomplish.

    First, limit rule-making authority to specific issues that have passed congressional approval by eliminating the language of any authorizations that allows for these agencies to make rules about anything. For example: There are two different agencies that tried to get in on the elimination of gas stoves, each based upon different stretches of their rule-making authority. Since these stretches were not specific in any authorizing legislation, they should automatically be denied the right to change those rules. The Department of Energy wants to change the efficiency requirements for appliances without justifying why the requirements they want to change are incorrect. This stretch should be illegal. This would prevent the President from being able to change the law just by rewriting the rules of the game, because this rewriting is akin to the public having to prove innocence.

    Second, throw out executive orders that are directed against the people.

  • We elect so many inept people into local, state and national positions that each election ought be good only for six months in office, for example, after which the voters get a thumbs up or down to retain or not retain any and all elected officials. (Just an idea folks, to make a point; do not get hot under your collar.)

    My city has never elected a city council member into City Hall who should be there for even two weeks much less for a four year term. Lot of thumbs down here.

    The low quality of elected politicians, ( even obviously flawed ones, such as a man who had his flaws “exposed” for 30 years in the Senate) has much to do with the propaganda foisted on gullible voters by main stream’s cynical editors, sophomoric newscasters and by the never ending lies, outrageous lies, told by each political party.

    So, why should anyone be elected for a full term anymore, when most of them are knuckleheads, oafs and provincial goof balls? And mighty embarrassing, too!

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