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No Senator, Republican or Democrat, Should Serve by Appointment

By       Message John Nichols       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Cross-posted from The Nation

The United States Senate, never a perfectly representative body, is in the process of becoming a good deal less representative.

One new senator, Tim Scott, has been appointed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, rather than elected by the people of that state. Another senator will be appointed by Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator Dan Inouye. A third is expected to be appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to replace secretary of state-nominee John Kerry.

These appointed senators will be powerful players. They will have critical roles in deciding whether to approve or reject cabinet nominees and Supreme Court selections, they will vote on tax policies and budget measures, they will decide whether to send the United States over a "fiscal cliff" -- or off to war. But they will do so without democratic legitimacy.

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No member of Congress should serve without having been elected by the people of the district or state they represent.

Unfortunately, the new Senate will have at least three members who serve not as representatives but as mandarins--appointees assigned to positions by governors who have assumed unreasonable authority.

What all this means is that more laws will be proposed, more filibusters will be broken, more critical votes will be tipped in one direction or another by "senators" who never earned a single vote.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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