The recent upset and political theatre over the appointment and seating of the Junior Senator Rolland Burris (D-Ill) made me cringe. As I sat and watched the latest drama on the Hill play out for the media there to gobble up the fodder, as I heard of Senator Burris being turned away by the Secretary of the Senate, his credentials not accepted, I thought, "please Democrats, don't be like the Neocons, don't be like the Republicans, don't ignore reality."
And yet, they did as they turned him away, they ignored Constitutional reality. Washington made a fever pitch assault on the document from 2000 to 2008, and it would appear 2009 started with it being walked over as well.
I grow weary of politicians from both sides, hell, Americans for that matter as a whole, ignoring the basic facts of our system and our nation, and at times, of our very nature.
The reality is, political appointments, some based in favors, are a reality and always have been and even the founders knew it.
"It wasn't until 1913 that the people were even given the chance to elect their own senators," historian, author and friend Kenneth C. Davis recently told me. "The founders thought the position far too important to leave to the mob, so to speak"
And as to the question as to whom would likely be appointed?
"It was presumed at the time the country was founded and some time thereafter that the people that populated public office would be, basically, like each other," he went on. "There were voting requirements, you often had to own property; a certain level of education and society and certainly race was simply presumed to be considered for public office and those in the halls tended to look like each other."
In other words, rich White men ran things and presumed to know best as to whom should populate the coveted two seats from each state in the Senate. After all, the Senate was a fixed body, Constitutionally, two from each state, period end. No debate.
Just like the XVII Amendment to the Constitution, it's pretty clear, too.
"The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of each State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution."
The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution passed the Senate on June 12, 1911 and the House of Representatives on May 13, 1912. The states completed ratification on April 8, 1913. The amendment supersedes Article I, § 3 of the Constitution. That means that each state's Senators were no longer to be anointed or chosen by the state's legislature but would be elected by the people. It also has the clause that is bothering the Democrats about Illinois AND it, would seam, Massachusetts, that said the state's governor, if so authorized by that state's legislature, would appoint a Senator in the event of a Senate vacancy, until an election is held to fill the vacancy.
Illinois is a state whose legislature Constitutionally allows their Governor to pick their Senator in this case.
Reality: Rob Blagojevich is the seated Governor of Illinois. He has not been impeached. He has not been removed from office. He has not been indicted, in fact, that investigation has now been "given more time" to gather evidence. Open and shut case? We'll see. But in the mean time, the reality is, this is legal.
So obey the law Democrats. Do what the PEOPLE want for a change whether YOU like it or not. We want OUR business to be done, and it wasn't that day, the day Mr. Burris went to Washington. Every moment spent discussing this in private was a moment not spent discussing the bleeding, dying economy, the swindling of the taxpayers by huge corporations and banks, looming double digit unemployment, war in the Middle East just a block or two from a country currently occupyied, the business of the United States Senate. It has woefully been ignored and while the Senate slept, Rome burned. The election of 2008 was billed as a wakeup call for change. On January 6, 2009 the 111th Senate was sleepwalking.
Your instructions are clear. The only qualifications to be a Senator (or President) are age and residency, and Burris mets them being 71 and a resident of Illinois. Reality. There are no resumé requirements in the Constitution of the United States or States in general for the legislature. Yes, they have the right to govern the actions of and membership in their bodies, but those rights must follow the law. They cannot deny membership simply because they a: don't feel like it b: don't like the guy or gal; or c: don't like the person that legally appointed him or her (or the people that elected them for that matter). To do so is to break the law, which they did that day, January 6, 2009, the first day of the Senate by turning Burris away. Stop it.
That's right, 99 members of the Senate either agreed with or turned away as senior leadership broke the law on international television, and I, for one, grow weary of that. Not only because it's simply wrong, but also because it distracts from real issues.
Sen. Burris will be seated and must because it's the law. But so far the Democrats, unfortunately, have been like their predecessors and have ignored the Constitution when they needed to, wanted to or it made it more convenient. They asked for guarantees he would not run again. There should have been no guarantees from this man. No one has to pledge one damn thing to any party about their possible reelection to legally occupy a Senate seat. To broker that is as horrifying as what the man that appointed him stands accused. Pay for play. You want to play in the Senate, agree to our terms? If after his LEGAL term the people of the state of Illinois wish to elect a 73-year-old let them and you shut up about it. In the mean time the law requires he be treated like every other legally elected or appointed official.
To do otherwise was and is unlawful, unconstitutional and just bad sport. It was and is to imply the person is tainted because of their association with an as-of-this-writing fully legal and seated Governor.
Reality is often inconvenient and the truth often hard to accept. Many Americans at the beginning of 2009 started the year with less personal wealth, some without homes or jobs, many in fear of the same and none with a clear picture of where their country was or is going to end up. That's reality.
The founders gave us documents to help us through tough times. To remove questions such as these in matters like this so the people's work could be done.
Most Republicans, Neocons AND Democrats let the nation down, let We, the People down for eight years. If the first day of the Senate was any indication, the only Change that went to Washington was on monogrammed towels or name plates on doors and stationary.
Otherwise, January 6, 2009 was business as usual for the 111th Senate; Unconstitutional, shameful, unnecessary business and We, the People were not better for it.
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