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All’s fair in politics

1/2/2013, 10:50 a.m.
Don’t worry. They’re just trying to make it safe for us.

All’s fair in politics

Sen. John Kerry has lived a life of extraordinary public service. He was first elected in 1985, became a leader in the U.S. Senate and is now highly respected by his colleagues. His many years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have made him uniquely qualified to perform with distinction as the next U.S. Secretary of State.

The only reservation about Kerry’s appointment is that his departure from the Senate leaves an enormous void to be filled. Now, Gov. Deval Patrick confronts the onerous task of selecting an interim successor with the prospect in mind that a candidate who can best serve the state and the nation will come forward and be approved by the voters.

Some pundits assert that the most significant criterion directing Patrick’s decisions should be fairness. That would impose an unusual standard for political maneuvers. The nation has just completed an election that was short on fairness. Citizens had to go to court to overturn oppressive voting restrictions that would have impeded the right to vote of the poor, the elderly and the infirm.

How can those calling for fairness ignore how the abuse of the filibuster rules by conservatives in the Senate has rendered that body dysfunctional? After Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), stated that the major objective of his party was for Obama to be a one-term president. One way to do that was to sabotage the implementation of administration programs by requiring the vote of 60 senators, enough to defeat a filibuster. A simple majority in the Senate is 51 votes.

Polls indicate that most Americans now believe that the U.S. Congress is incapable of caring for the country’s business. Gallup polls and others indicate that public confidence in the Congress has been as low as 10 percent this year and has not risen above 20 percent since June of 2011. Now it seems that conservatives in Congress are willing to drive the nation over the “fiscal cliff” rather than accede to compromise on issues that the voters supported when they re-elected Obama in November.

Under these circumstances, it is unreasonable to think of fair play as the primary issue. Thoughtful voters want the governor to pursue a strategy, by any means necessary, to replace Sen. Kerry with someone capable of being effective in solving the serious problem in the nation’s Senate.

It’s now or never

Six- and seven-year-old children are innocent. They are too young to have acquired the impetuous and anti-social behavior that afflicts many of their teenage elders. That is why people all over the world reacted so emotionally to the wanton slaughter of 20 students in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Children in America have never been safe from gun violence. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 561 children under 12 have been killed by firearms from 2006-2010, and that does not include accidents. Some jurisdictions are more violent than others. The Chicago Public Schools reported that 144 students were killed during the 2008-2009 school year and an estimated 399 students were wounded.

American adults have been negligent in failing to take the necessary steps to reduce youthful violence with guns. Finally, the Sandy Hook massacre has grabbed the nation’s attention. It is foolish to criticize past failures at this time. Now is the time to seize the moment to implement policies and strategies that will help to prevent future violence.

A civilized people cannot tolerate the level of youth violence that has plagued the nation.