Russell K Pearce is a juggernaut of conservatism in Arizona politics. As a person, he has a charm and charisma that even the most liberal of Democrats could begrudgingly admire, and many do. Although media in it’s laziness only wants to focus on immigration, so that people think that this recall is just about making it easier for people to reside in the nation illegally, couldn’t be farther from the truth. Differences about Immigration is the easiest answer to the question about why Russell Pearce was recalled, but it is not the complete answer. The complete answer is important. Current and future leaders should study the real answer, poli-sci students should dissect it, it has happened before and it can happen again.
For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery. ~Jonathan Swift
Bad things happen when politicians believe the power given by constituents is theirs personally. The fact is the job description demand those elected to office represent the people who sent them to office. Because of forgetting this important fact, politicians make bad decisions that are catastrophic to political careers. A politician must remember that it does not always matter what he/she personally thinks, what matters is how well the people who vote feel represented by the office the official was elected to uphold. The power the official holds is on loan from the people of his/her district and revocation of that power will occur in light of a forgotten agreement.
Enter the special interests. Smooth talking charismatic folks sent to stroke a politician’s ego. Many are friends and acquaintances from business dealings or social groups. They con the politician, who let’s face it, is open to being conned anyway, gets convinced that the power is theirs personally to use. That they hold the sword and it is theirs to do what they like with it. A special interest representative is like puffer fish they puff themselves up to look like they hold a great impact over the politician’s career. Like any pusher or dealer, they try to convince their prey that they need them, that they would be nothing without them. But they are full of hot air and hold only a small impact when their influence is deflated by the people of the community. The politician, distracted by the special interests, forgets the power belongs to the people. His/her job is only to be a responsible steward of the power on loan to him/her.
The reason why Arizona Legislative District 18 recalled Russell Pearce is that he thought the power was his personally to wield as he wished. He also underestimated the power given to him as Senate President. Being Senate President meant he represented the whole State, not just his district. The decisions he made influenced the State and the nation and required more than a hyperpartisan faction view to represent those who had loaned him the power to use for the good of the entire state ofArizona. He used the power as his own, and he did this regardless of what the rest of the City and State that he represented as Senate President wanted.
He lost touch with the people who gave him the power of State Senate President. He forgot about the consent of the governed. He began to believe that he knew better than everyone else did how things should be. Russell Pearce used intimidation to force special interest bills through the legislature. He dismissed the will of the people of the State ofArizonarepeatedly. He continued to shut them out of the Democratic process that is their right, because he felt the process of Democracy was too messy. It is too messy, but it still needs to happen. Voters tried correspondence, protest, voter initiatives and various other tools at their disposal to get his attention and only as a last resort did they pull out the big guns of recall.
It is my hope that people like Russell Pearce who desire to hold public office will remember again how this system works. It works when the people offer their power to a representative they trust and that representative uses that power wisely and for the greater good of the people, they represent. When that ideal is lost, the people will pull that power back. It’s best to do what one can to avoid recall in this way as it is not a good situation for anyone.