Barking up the wrong fruit

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Rick Horowitz
Thursday, December 22, 2011
— “Sour grapes!”

You’ve been hearing that a lot lately here in the Badger State. A half-million petition signatures in a matter of weeks can do that—make certain folks just a little tetchy, I mean. Hypersensitive.

Call it Recall Reaction Syndrome.

You get a recall campaign up and running against some prominent state official—a recently elected governor, say (in Wisconsin, say)—and his defenders start complaining that you’re nothing but a “sore loser.” You want a “do-over.”

It’s “sour grapes!” they cry.

No it’s not. In fact, they’re barking up the wrong fruit! Don’t think grapes—think lemons. Think: the Lemon Law!

You know the Lemon Law, don’t you? Lots of states have them to protect consumers from getting ripped off when they make a big purchase that goes really bad.

You buy a new car, say, and you sign on the dotted line and you drive it off the dealer’s lot all bright and shiny, and before long everything’s going wrong with it. We’re not talking little pings here; we’re talking major problems. You try to get it fixed—you take it in to the shop two, three, four times—but it keeps breaking down on you. Whatever goes wrong stays wrong.

Are you stuck with that rotten new car? Of course not! Under those Lemon Laws, you’re protected. This new car of yours wasn’t anything like what it was supposed to be. It didn’t work anything like it was supposed to work. So you can drag it back to the dealer and get yourself a different one.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Nobody deserves to get ripped off like that. They’ve put you through all sorts of grief—but there’s a way to make it come out OK.

Now, let’s say you bought a shiny new governor—a Scott Walker, say, the 2011 model Scott Walker—and you barely drive it off the lot before it starts going haywire.

The steering isn’t stable—it keeps lurching to the right! It’s belching smoke—it’s belching such thick smoke that half the time, you can’t even see what it’s doing!

That’s not all, though. The gas pedal on the 2011 Scott Walker sticks to the floor, and the brakes are shot. It runs right over people! Teachers! State workers! All sorts of people—just knocks ’em flat and keeps right on rolling! It’s as if speed limits and “Stop” signs aren’t even there!

Well, nobody expects you to keep driving a disaster like that, do they? That would be ridiculous. And worse than ridiculous—that would be really dangerous! Of course you take it back to the dealership. Of course you get yourself a new one. Something reliable. Something that isn’t always trying to crash right through the guard rails and run right off the road.

When the car dealership sells you a clunker, you’re allowed to send it back—that’s the Lemon Law.

And here in Wisconsin, when your governor turns out to be a clunker, you’re allowed to send him back, too—that’s a recall.

Just think of it as a Consumer Protection Plan for voters.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

Last updated: 7:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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