As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 13, 2009

The 28th Amendment

It's hard to even write anything today because it will just pale in comparison to Jon Stewart channeling the rage of 10 million blog posts last night. But I have a responsibility to my legions of fans, so...

Let's talk the Senate appointment process!

Russ Feingold held a hearing this week on his proposed Constitutional amendment, to mandate special elections for all Senate vacancies, just as there are for House vacancies. With the spectacular flameout of the Blagojevich/Burris fiasco and other appointments handled poorly, there is no better time to get this done. And the number of appointments - 6 in the past two years - is robbing the people of their ability to choose their own representatives.

Mr. Feingold said he was motivated not only by the furor surrounding the disputed appointment of Roland W. Burris to the Senate by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, since impeached, but also by the sheer number of appointees in the turnover after the election of President Obama.

“I really became troubled when I realized that such a significant percentage of the U.S. Senate was about to be appointed rather than elected by the people,” said Mr. Feingold, who will convene a joint House-Senate judiciary hearing on the proposal on Wednesday. “I think of it as a right-to-vote issue.”

At the hearing, Sen. Mark Begich testified to the personal experience in his family with this issue:

In October 1972, the Alaska Democrat’s father, Rep. Nick Begich, was declared missing along with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, D-La., when their plane disappeared on its way to Juneau. It wasn’t until two months later that Nick Begich was declared deceased — and that was after he had been re-elected.

"Throughout this ordeal, Alaskans were officially without representation in the House of Representatives," Begich noted at a bicameral hearing of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. "But my recollection — and my review of news reports from that era — show no outcry for the appointment of a new congressman. Alaskans then, like Alaskans now, feel strongly that their elected representatives in the federal government should be exactly that — elected."

Special elections will remove the possibility for one corrupted politician to make a decision for millions of constituents and help restore democracy to the Senate. It's an obvious fix, so much so that even one of the appointed Senators, Delaware's Ted Kaufman, responded to the proposal by saying, "I think this is a good idea."

You can join Sen. Feingold as a citizen co-sponsor to what he is terming "the 28th Amendment".

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