Democrats Show Contempt for the Governed

Democrats Show Contempt for the Governed

By Robert Tracinski - January 13, 2010

A new poll over the weekend shows Republican senatorial candidate Scott Brown actually pulling ahead of Democrat Martha Coakley by a narrow margin, 48-47, for the January 19 special election in Massachusetts. Note particularly that this poll shows an energized right, a demoralized left, and a two-to-one lead for Brown among independents--all similar to what we saw last November in Virginia and New Jersey, with the result of a clear victory for the Republican candidate.

Maybe this poll is inaccurate--another poll shows a strong lead, 53-36, for Coakley, and there is some controversy over which is more accurate. But the fact that there is any question of this race being competitive means that the public is deeply dissatisfied with the Democrats in general and with Obamacare in particular; Brown is surging in the polls because he has promised to deprive congressional Democrats of the 60th Senate vote they need to pass the final health care bill.

The Democrats' response has been to do something that will make the American people so livid they will resolve to cast the Democratic Party into political exile for at least another decade.

In response to the surge for Brown, the state-level official whose job is to certify the election results declared that he would refuse to certify Brown until February 20--fully a month after the special election, and more to the point, after the deadline the Democrats have set for a final congressional vote on Obamacare. According to the Boston Herald,

[A] spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who is overseeing the election but did not respond to a call seeking comment, said certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor's Council would take a while.... Another source told the Herald that Galvin's office has said the election won't be certified until Feb. 20....

Since the US Senate doesn't meet again in formal session until Jan. 20, Bay State voters will have made their decision before a vote on health-care reform could be held. But [interim Senator Paul] Kirk and Galvin's office said today a victorious Brown would be left in limbo.

In contrast, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was sworn in at the US House of Representatives on Oct. 18, 2007, just two days after winning a special election to replace Martin Meehan. In that case, Tsongas made it to Capitol Hill in time to override a presidential veto of the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Democratic Party officials are openly declaring that they will refuse to seat the duly elected senator from Massachusetts, for no other reason than because they don't like how he will vote on a specific piece of legislation--even though the people elected him to vote that way. The pledge not to certify Scott Brown is an assault on representative government itself.

This is a development that turns the Massachusetts special election into something much bigger and more basic. The issue in Massachusetts is no longer just the fate of the health care bill. The issue is: who is in charge here--the politicians or the people? Are they our representatives--or our rulers?

Note the justification offered for the plan to block Brown from voting on the health care bill if he wins: the idea that this is "Ted Kennedy's Senate seat" and therefore shouldn't be used to vote against Kennedy's agenda. To this question, Brown provided the best answer in Monday night's debate: "With all due respect, it's not the Kennedys' seat, it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat." 

The Democrats' arrogant sense of entitlement to power is part of a larger pattern: a systematic expression of contempt for the governed. The Democrats have turned against democracy. 

When Kennedy passed away, the Massachusetts legislature changed the rules to delay a special election and allow the state's governor, an Obama ally, to appoint an interim successor, longtime Kennedy aide Paul Kirk, who would presumably vote the way Kennedy would have voted on the health care bill. But as part of this deal, Senator Kirk vowed to remain neutral in the special election to choose a permanent successor. He recently violated that pledge by endorsing Coakley.

Coakley has contributed her own blatant act of disregard for the promises she makes to voters. In the Democratic primary, she campaigned on her opposition to the current Senate bill's restrictions on federal funding for abortions, vowing that she would not vote for the bill if it contained those provisions. The moment she got the nomination, she announced that she would vote for the Senate bill after all.

The betrayal was so blatant it has prompted some far-left Democrats to campaign against Coakley in revenge. I have already written a letter encouraging left and right to join forces against the current corrupt health care bill. Sensing the opportunity in Massachusetts, legal blogger William Jacobson is now proposing an alliance of left and right specifically against Martha Coakley.

But Coakley and Kirk are merely responding to the dishonorable example set at the very top. C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb is complaining that President Obama repeatedly promised in his election campaign that he would open the final health care negotiations to the public and have them broadcast on C-SPAN--a promise the administration now refuses even to discuss. As my friend Jack Wakeland put it to me, "You know that you're lower than the worst partisan hack if you can tick off the unflappably neutral Brian Lamb."

We all expect politicians to carefully parse their statements and to look for wiggle room that allows them to secretly dodge their previous commitments. What makes these examples so striking, however, is that the violation of campaign promises is so immediate, open, and brazen. They don't even try to lie about lying. The message is: I have a right to tell you whatever I think will make you vote for me--and I don't even have to pretend to adhere to any of it after I'm elected.

Combine that with the wider pattern of the last year. Consider the slanderous expressions of contempt for the tea party movement and for constituents who showed up at town hall meetings. Or the inclusion in the health care bill of a provision that bans any future Congress from repealing it, apparently on the principle of one man, one vote, one time. Or the corrupt web of special deals and kickbacks used to buy the votes needed to pass this bill. That is what happens when our political leaders no longer focus on gaining the consent of the governed but focus instead on gaining the assent of the other slick operators within the political class.

And then there is the Democrats' threat to abolish the filibuster, an invaluable Senate rule that provides protection from the runaway power of an arrogant congressional majority.

The overall pattern is that the Democrats want to impose their agenda even if it means corrupting our political institutions in an attempt to protect politicians from having to answer to the people.

Robert Tracinski is editor of The Tracinski Letter and a contributor to RealClearMarkets.

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