Dear Governor Patrick:
As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I write to make a rather unusual request. With each day that passes, it becomes clearer that there will be a vacancy in the Commonwealth's Senatorial delegation when John Kerry moves into the President's Cabinet. I am certain that there are many in the political establishment who will be interested in filling that vacancy, and no doubt you will be pressed to appoint various "highly qualified" politicians to fill the vacancy. Most recently, Representative Barney Frank has made his case public. As you consider the vacancy, I would ask that you remember that Article 1 of the Constitution makes it clear that a Senator should be over 30, a citizen for 9 years, and a resident of the Commonwealth, nothing more, and there is wisdom in that simplicity.
As a citizen of the Commonwealth, I would ask that you make use of your power to appoint a replacement to select someone from outside of the political class that operates in this Commonwealth. Please choose an individual who has neither held public office, nor been a member of either political party's establishment.
My reasons for this request are three:
1) We are living in a time of partisan gridlock. Every member of the establishment of both parties in this and every state seem to be unable to even socialize with each other. None are interested in doing anything other than advance their parties "agenda." Everything is contentious, and nothing is collaborative. All of the Federalist Paper's warnings of factions have come to fruition. "Highly qualified" politicians who are beholden to a party for their political careers won't be able to set the party aside. The current result of this indebtedness is that there are no new ideas in Washington, and I think everyone can agree that we need new ideas desperately. Congressman Frank, though a skilled legislator, has not been successful in moving the country forward in any of the issues he claims to be able to impact in the Senate. Taking nothing away from his legislative accomplishments, isn't he nothing more than the same wine in a new bottle? Appointing an unknown person would help to end partisan gridlock by introducing a person who is not beholden to the party establishment of either party. This would allow the new Senator to seek the best path to solutions, not the over-trodden party path.
2) We need new blood in our political institutions. Look at the tenure of our elected officials in the Commonwealth. All the Representatives in the House have served so long that they don't remember what it is to actually work for a living. Our State Legislature sees turn-over only due to scandal or retirement. Every indicator we could use clearly points to the fact that we have a political class in our country. All are wealthy, all are older, all are white, all are, for lack of a better word, aristocrats. We are perilously close to losing a government of, by and for the people. The barrier for participation as an elected official is so high monetarily that ordinary citizens can't aspire to public office. That is not how our system was meant to be. Appointing a person from outside that political class, someone who does not match the stereotype, would inject newness into a body that has become old and stale and help to undermine the presence of a political class in our society.
3) Holding public office is no longer viewed as a noble endeavor by our society. Rarely do I hear students in my school talk about a desire to serve our country through running for elected office. It is not an aspiration by those outside the political class. (i.e.: those not named Kennedy...) This is directly related to the above, as Senators are seen as rich bums who can't get things done. Pulling in someone for appointment who is a regular citizen who is simply a person "of continental character" creates a clear role model for those young people to believe that they can hold office too. It opens doors for greater participation, and we need that right now.
Obviously whomever you appoint will have the seat temporarily, and the usual suspects will no doubt run for the office once the interim period ends. In the end, it is likely that the electorate will be forced to choose from whichever stooge the two parties put up. But maybe that appointed person will choose to run in the future as well. Maybe that person will inspire others to run. Maybe that person will propose legislation that helps cut through the clutter and actually bring about change. Maybe that person will do nothing more than just represent the Commonwealth with dignity and honor, having been genuinely honored by the appointment, rather than feel it is an entitlement.
So please, Mr. Governor, broaden your net. Invite those who are new to the process to participate, even if just for a short while. Look around the Commonwealth to find the best person who is over 30, been nine years a citizen, and who resides in the Commonwealth. Those are the first criteria by which a candidate should be judged; I urge you to remember that as you contemplate this vacancy.
Thank you for your time,