Monthly Archives: February 2013
Republican US Senate Candidate, Gabriel Gomez
Since Ed Markey’s comments on Dred Scott and Citizens United some including the Boston Globe’s Farah Stockman have said bad analogy, but Citizen’s United is a grave threat to democracy and should be repealed. So before I get to my admiration for pandering and gridlock let’s start today with a quiz:
Q: Has Citizens United tilted Washington toward the rich?
Has Scott Brown left an electoral legacy? A few weeks ago, when the dismal state of the Republican Party here was again on full display (again, as in over and over again since the 1970s), it’d be easy to suggest Brown did not leave the GOP stronger than when he first ran for Senate.
“They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.” Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 407 (1856).
So as bad as the Citizens United decision is, no, it doesn’t approach Dred Scott. But we’re having a problem with this.
In my last post about the upcoming special election for John Kerry’s US Senate seat, I hoped aloud (so to speak) that we would not be told ad nauseam that “little things mean a lot.” Commentary and stories about every little personal characteristic, statement, or action on the campaign trail are truly for entertainment purposes only. Unless somebody pulls a “Todd Akin” these things will not impact the outcome of this election.
Was Ed Markey’s comparison of the Dred Scott decision to the Citizens United decision a “gaffe?” Are we in for another US Senate election where the press, pundits, and political wise men desperately try to convince us that “little things mean a lot?”
Princeton Professor Martin Gilens opens his book Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America with a quote from Justice Louis Brandeis: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
Professor Gilens does not have good news for us about what the concentration of money in the hands of a few is doing to our democracy.
Some good links of political interest:
One of the maddening aspects of political debates (especially campaign debates) is how utterly useless they are to a reasoned discussion of the serious issues the nation faces. University of Notre Dame Professor of Philosophy Gary Gutting has a proposal to give us A Great Debate in the New York Times “Opinionator” blog.
The proliferation of prospects pursuing the Massachusetts Republican Party’s nomination for the special senate election is positive for the GOP and good news for the commonwealth. Several rising candidates could do more for the party than one exhausted and vulnerable Scott Brown.
I have spent much of the last year and a half trying to explain that candidates and campaigns are not the primary drivers of US Senate elections in Massachusetts. As the Race for the Democratic nomination gets started I feel compelled to clarify that I was referring to election contests, not party nominating contests, which are settled in primary elections.