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Massachusetts Democratic Double-Whammy

September 26th, 2009

I am of two minds on the move by Massachusetts Democrats to switch back to allowing the governor to choose a temporary replacement for Ted Kennedy. In case you have not been following this, the state Dems made a law in 2004 that the governor could not appoint a senator in the eventuality of a seat becoming open, and instead the seat would remain empty for several months while a special election was arranged. They did this because, at the time, Kerry might have won the 2004 elections and Republican Governor Romney would have been in a position to put a right-winger in his liberal seat, who would have remained until 2006, the next election year (Kerry’s own term would end in 2008). Now that Kennedy has died and his open seat hurts the Dems, they have changed the law again to allow the Democratic governor to appoint a temporary fill-in.

On the one hand, when you have the majority in the legislature, you do get to make the laws; there is nothing illegal, certainly, about changing them on a whim. And it is likely that Romney would have placed a senator in Kerry’s seat who would have very much not represented the will of the voters, while an absence now would also go against the will of the voters.

However, this smacks all too much of changing the rules to suit your current political needs, and as such, is not something I would condone. While the result is something that I very much want, I can’t support the way it was accomplished. In fact, Romney himself proposed a plan at the time which would have been acceptable: he and Democrats together select a replacement, who would serve for only as long as it took to arrange for a special election. Whether the offer was genuine or part of a larger plan to delay action until it was too late for Democrats to act is a different question, but the idea at face value seemed sound. Democrats rejected that and instead chose to leave the seat open.

It’s not kosher when the Republicans do it, and it’s not kosher when the Dems do it. Nothing incredibly scandalous here, but let’s leave the egregious, opportunistic political flip-flopping to the Republicans, who, after all, are all too masterful at the game.

Categories: Political Game-Playing Tags: by
    September 27th, 2009 at 14:54 | #1

    It is not that this smacks all too much of changing the rules to suit your current political needs: it is in fact changing the rules to suit your current political needs. The question is, so what! In this case there is a higher interest involved and there is no room for niceties or kosher arguments as long as it is all legal.

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