This is a difficult time for the Kennedy clan, with Ted Kennedy’s death coming so soon after that of his sister Eunice. I’m no fan of Kennedy’s politics, but may he rest in peace.
At such a time, I am inclined to abstain from criticism of Kennedy’s ideals and means. But I can’t help noticing that Kennedy himself did not regard even the occasion of his own passing as exempt from one more try at political game-playing.
Shortly before his death, Kennedy urged the Massachusetts legislature to change the rules governing how he’d be replaced. Currently, when a U.S. senate seat in Massachusetts is prematurely vacated, there’s a special election. Kennedy urged that the rules be changed so that the governor would instead appoint the replacement. The incumbent governor is a Democrat, who would likely pick a Democrat.
Yet back in 2004, when Senator John Kerry might have become president, it was also Kennedy who urged switching from gubernatorial appointments — the rule at the time — to conducting special elections. The legislature complied. Back then, you see, the incumbent governor was Republican, unlikely to pick a Democrat had replacing Kerry become necessary.
Let’s have one policy or the other — not a switch every time there’s a vacancy, in just such a way as to serve the most partisan of goals. Such rigging of the system has become all too common.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.