Saturday, January 12, 2013

Break it so You Can Fix it.

Res Publica
Break it so You Can Fix it.
by David Trumbull -- January 11, 2012

A Hundred years ago we amended the Constitution to provide for direct election of senators and the filling of vacancies in the senate. We're still fiddling with the second part of that, and that is just one of the reasons the Seventeenth Amendment has been harmful to our Republic.

When Senator John Kerry is confirmed as the 68th Secretary of State of the United States, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will promptly appoint a temporary Senator so that the Commonwealth's equal representation in the U.S. Senate is preserved. That appointee will serve until a special election is held in about four or five months. Many observers think former Senator Scott Brown will likely run, and likely win, the special election and some Democrats have suggested that the law be changed to allow the governor's appointee to serve until the senator chosen by the people in the regularly scheduled November 2014 election is sworn in.

Governor Patrick has been quoted as saying that other states do it that way (appointment until the next regular election, with no special election in between) and that he wishes it were that way here. In fact, it was that way here until the Democratically-controlled legislature changed the law in 2004 to strip Republican Governor Mitt Romney of the power to appoint a temporary senator. Democrats were content to leave the seat vacant, thus forfeiting our equal representation in the senate, rather than risk having a Republican represent us. The Democrats changed the law again in 2009 to give Governor Patrick power to appoint a Democrat until the special election was scheduled. Having rigged the law not once but twice to favor the Democrats, rigging it yet a third time, solely for the purpose of preventing Mr. Brown from getting back into the senate by way of a special election, is too corrupt a proposal even for Massachusetts, which is saying alot!

This is, or course, precisely why the rules should be set in advance and left alone. Otherwise you get exactly what we have in the Bay State, public loss of confidence in the integrity of a system that is constantly being tweaked to put the fix in for one party. The grand irony is just how often attempts to rig the system backfire. Scott Brown would never have been elected had the Democrats not tried to the rig the results with their 2009 special election law fix. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

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