Steel is the immediate past president of the California Republican
Party, activist, commentator, conservative stalwart and recall
proponent. Mr. Steel is an attorney practicing in Palos Verdes,
After the Damage Davis Has Caused In One Term, Can State
Afford to Go Through Another?
by Shawn Steel 6/2/03
At the beginning of the 20th century, a progressive revolt added the rights of
initiative, referendum and recall to the state constitution in order to give
citizens recourse against the powerful special-interest groups that had made
state government their handmaiden.
As we begin
the 21st century, we again find ourselves faced with corruption,
incompetence and the paramountcy of special-interest influence,
this time centered in a single individual: Gov. Gray Davis.
His continuously scandal-plagued, calamitous administration
brought our state to the brink of disaster, and it's time to
take those tools of democratic accountability in hand and recall
been threatened before, but in my decades of political involvement
never has one caught fire like the current effort to recall
In the last
few weeks, a broad-based, ad hoc coalition of activists, public-policy
groups, business people and ordinary citizens has begun to
coalesce around this effort, ranging from the anti-tax group
People's Advocate on the right to Pat Caddell on the left.
reflects a disgust and disaffection with Davis that transcends
partisan affiliation, age, gender, race or ethnicity. Californians
understand we would not be in these perilous straits if Davis
possessed a modicum of foresight and the basic sense of duty
and honor to place the best interests of state residents
before his immediate political imperatives.
are paying for Davis' ostrichlike refusal to deal with uncomfortable
realities such as high electricity rates; a budget meltdown
that will result in higher taxes on working families and businesses;
reduced public assistance for the aged, blind and disabled;
and deteriorating health care for children, the poor and the
leadership means fewer opportunities and greater hardship for
all Californians. In a hundred ways large and small, he has
proved himself unworthy of our trust and his office.
campaign is not about replacing a Democratic governor with
a Republican one. It is about throwing out the most incompetent
and corrupt governor in state history. Voters will be able
to choose Davis' successor from a range of candidates. If they
want another Democrat in the governorship, they can
elect one. If they want a Republican instead, they
can have that, too - or an independent, a Libertarian, a Green
the recall could give lessons to the French in hand-wringing
and rationalizations, trotting out several phony arguments
for opposing it. They claim it is inappropriate because Davis
was re-elected, however anemically, just last November.
I respond: so what? That is exactly why we have the recall
- so citizens don't have to wait until the next election to
remove an elected official. According to the state constitution, "All
political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted
for their protection, security, and benefit, and
they have the right to alter or reform it when
the public good may require."
re-election, Davis brazenly lied about the magnitude of the
state deficit. He pays hundreds of former campaign aides who
are working for various state agencies. He has
admitted that he hid vital budgetary devices,
which means that the dismal plurality that re-elected him was
deceived about the true scope of Davis' incompetence. This
recall is an opportunity for voters to act on this new knowledge.
state's constitution gives the people the right to recall
their elected officials whenever it suits them, provided enough
- in this case, 898,000 - sign a recall petition.
There has not been a more opportune or
necessary moment during which to exercise that constitutional
right than now.
the recall is wasteful and pointless. On the contrary - it
is neither. It is driven by the freely donated time of volunteers
and the freely donated dollars of contributors. And if 898,000
voters decide otherwise by signing the recall petition, then
the people have the right to decide that
question for themselves.
it because he knows Californians won't pass up another opportunity
to replace him with a man or woman of honor and ability.
the state constitution's assertion that "sufficiency
of reason [for a recall] is not reviewable," the Los
Angeles Daily News claims that recalls should be reserved
for massive corruption and incompetence
and states that while Davis is corrupt and incompetent, this
doesn't merit a recall.
and incompetent must one be? Must state government go completely
bankrupt? Must Davis openly admit that campaign contributions
guide his policy decisions?
of the damage Davis has done during a single term, can we afford
to wait out a second term? The Libertarian Party seems
to think not. Recently they became
the first political party formally
to endorse the recall. The Republicans
made it official just days ago,
and the Greens probably are not
crisis requires true leadership and moral fortitude - qualities
Davis will not suddenly and magically acquire.
of recall exists for a reason.
Let us not shrink from using
originally appeared at the Los Angeles Daily Journal 5/29/03]
2003 Shawn Steel
Shawn Steel, the immediate past chairman of the California Republican
Party and a principal with Shawn Steel & Associates in Palos