Naked power play


If Democrats remain mystified by "tea parties" and other recent expressions of outrage against Washington, they ought to look no further than what their own are trying to pull in Massachusetts as a perfect example of why many Americans are fed up with politicians and politics.

The shenanigans involve the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy.

Until 2004, Massachusetts law empowered the state's governor to fill an unexpected Senate vacancy. But the state had a Republican governor that year, and Sen. John Kerry won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Worried that a Republican might be appointed to replace Sen. Kerry if he were elevated to the White House, Bay State Democrats, enjoying large legislative majorities, changed the rules to mandate that any vacancies be filled via special elections.

Fast forward five years. A Democrat now sits in the governor's office. Sen. Kennedy loses his life fighting brain cancer. It will be at least four months before Massachusetts can hold a special election, and Democrats are one vote short of a filibuster-proof 60 in the U.S. Senate as they race to pass a radical agenda.

Solution? Massachusetts Democrats rewrite the rules again.

On Tuesday, the state Senate voted 24-16 to allow Gov. Deval Patrick to select Mr. Kennedy's successor. The House passed the bill last week.

End of story? Nope.

Turns out that under the state constitution, laws passed by the legislature take effect 90 days after they're signed by the governor -- unless lawmakers attach a so-called "emergency pre-amble."

Such emergency measures must be approved by a two-thirds majority -- a benchmark lawmakers failed to achieve in ramming through changes in the succession process.

Not to worry.

The president of the Massachusetts Senate argues that the governor can get around the two-thirds problem by writing a letter to the secretary of state declaring his own "emergency." Presto! He can then appoint a favored Democrat immediately to save the day for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The lesson all this nonsense sends to schoolchildren is clear. Maintaining power is the primary purpose of political life. And if politicians don't like the rules or constitutional restrictions that stand in their way, they simply change them -- and if they can't change them, they ignore them.

It's the attitude that has given us a government that has grown far beyond the boundaries imposed by the nation's founding document, a government that meddles in even the most minute aspects of daily life, a government fast heading off a financial cliff thanks to big spenders and redistributionists who view the productive classes as their own giant Treasury.

It's the attitude that has a great many Americans up in arms. And they may have finally gotten sick enough to do something about it.

 

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