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