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Early endorsements skew the democratic process

Melvin B. Miller

An effective representative democracy requires the citizens to remain informed and involved. That is quite a challenge in a modern society with so many services that enable affluent people to have to do less themselves. There is a danger that people will tend not to pay enough attention to the policies and attitudes of those who are candidates for public office. After Rachael Rollins’ tenure as Suffolk County District Attorney, voters expect new ideas in the coming election.

The political primary system is one strategy to enable adversaries to compete for status within a political party. It is generally understood that those with high office will not openly intervene unless a candidate is deemed to be truly unworthy. Apparently that practice no longer applies. Ricardo Arroyo, a Boston City Councilor, announced his candidacy for Suffolk County District Attorney on February 8. By March 14, Sen. Elizabeth Warren had endorsed him, and Sen. Ed Markey followed suit a week later.

There is no negative record to justify the preemptive endorsement of Arroyo over Kevin Hayden except that Hayden, the current incumbent, was appointed by a Republican governor. The overwhelming endorsement of both U.S. senators might very well create the impression that Hayden has no chance of winning. Voters might then be denied an illuminating campaign such as the one raised by Rachael Rollins who provided a new approach to criminal prosecutions.

Unfortunately, the premature endorsements come at a time when many citizens have been forced to confront the invalid assertion that elections are rigged. A high percentage of Republicans still believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. And now, news reports indicate that Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, may have been involved in efforts to overturn the election.

With President Vladimir Putin of Russia providing a clear example of what autocracy looks like, American public officials should be demonstrating the fairness and candor of the American political system. While there is no basic illegality in early endorsements, they might create to some citizens an example of the usurpation of political power.