Jonathan Zimmerman: Gov. Scott Walker and the Danger of the Recall Movement





Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory."

I'm a lifelong Democrat and a career educator. So I'm predictably appalled by Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has cut spending for schools and stripped teachers — and most of the state's public workers — of collective bargaining rights.

But I'm also appalled by the recall campaign against Walker by Wisconsin Democrats, who Tuesday chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run against Walker in a June 5 special election — a rematch of the 2010 contest. The recall epitomizes the petty, loser-take-all vindictiveness of contemporary American politics. And if you don't agree, I've got two names for you: former California Gov. Gray Davis and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein....

...[Recalls were] born during the Progressive era a century ago. Fearful that corporate interests were bribing state and local legislators, Progressives demanded a tool that would allow voters to remove elected officials who were on the take....

As a liberal, I'm troubled by the prospect of voters unseating an elected official over taxes. Or abortion. Or gun control. If you can recall leaders for any political reason, sooner or later your own ox will be gored....



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