San Francisco State University -- September 26, 2003
San Francisco State University experts on the Oct.
7 recall election
San Francisco State University offers several knowledgeable experts
on politics who can provide analysis on the Oct. 7 recall election.
For additional assistance in reaching faculty experts, please call the
Office of Public Affairs at (415) 338-1665.
Robert Smith, professor of political science, is expert on American
politics and its history. Smith says that however one judges the performance
of Gov. Gray Davis, the recall challenges the democratic process.
"The recall is reckless and contrary to the American republican
tradition (Madison and the other framers of the Constitution would surely
recoil in horror at this process). Indeed, the idea of the immediate
recall of elected officials is a Marxist idea, advanced by Marx and
Engels in their radical theory of democracy. Although it is not likely
to happen, the legislature should consider repealing or radically reforming
this provision of the Constitution,” Smith said.
Smith can be reached at (415) 338-7524 or (510) 222-7273 or via e-mail
Francis Neely, assistant professor of political science, is an authority
on the election process. Neely says that the recall is a reason to take
a new look at the election process in California.
"The California recall brings to light questions about direct democracy
and the means by which we practice it. In theory, direct citizen input
seems appropriate and valid; in practice, aggregating citizens' preferences
can be tricky. Our unusual rules for recalling state officials should
be changed to avoid another election like this one," Neely said.
Neely can be reached at (415) 386-3748 or (415) 338-1522 or via e-mail
James Martel, assistant professor of political science, is an expert
on American politics and political theory. Martel says the recall highlights
the limitations of our political system.
"I think that this recall situation is fast turning into an example
of the constitutional crises that periodically wrack the country. The
constitution and our subsequent system of government is not particularly
well suited for very difficult political decisions--as many have famously
said, we tend to 'muddle through' rather than make definitive decisions.
As a result, many problems fester and remain intractable or are 'resolved'
by means other than passing laws and making collective decisions,"
Martel can be reached at (415) 405-2162 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corey Cook, assistant professor of political science, is an expert in
California politics. Cook says that the top candidates for governor
are currently facing a two-fold job: campaign and prepare to govern
the state if they win.
"Unlike a governor elected in a 'normal' general election, there
will be no time or money for a transition, they will face a legislature
whose leadership and entire membership is already in place (and the
vast majority of whom represent safe districts), and extraordinary demands
within the first several months of the term. Rather than seizing the
reins of political power, if indeed Governor Davis is removed from office,
the next governor will have to find a way to fit himself into a preexisting
government," Cook said.
Cook can be reached at (415) 405-2471 or (510) 336-0978 or via e-mail
Note to editors: Cook is only available for print and radio interviews.
Contact: Ted DeAdwyler (415) 338-1665