Friday, June 18, 2010

This is why ideologues should not be allowed to dominate our government policy

I’m very sure that I am one of the few people who is not bothered by the presence of Roland Burris in the U.S. Senate, because I always thought the idea of having a special election to pick someone to serve for a few months before the 2010 elections take place was a waste.

In my mind, that sentiment was reinforced when I learned of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling this week that claims we must have an election to pick a person to complete the remainder of the six-year Senate term to which Barack Obama was elected in 2004.

THE APPEALS COURT based in Chicago issued a ruling that says the governor’s authority to make appointments to fill a Senate vacancy really means he has a “duty” to issue the order for a special election.

But the appeals court also ruled that the Illinois constitution is such that it gives the governor no leeway in terms of picking a date for said elections.

Therefore, had Blagojevich gone ahead and scheduled an election to pick a replacement for Obama – rather than picked Burris out of spite to his political opponents who were leading for his impeachment and removal from office at the time – his only choice would have been to schedule that special election for Nov. 2.

That’s the same date as the general elections across the country, and also the date upon which Illinois voters will be asked to pick between Alexi Giannoulias or Mark Kirk (there are a few alternate party candidates in the running, but none who are putting together anything resembling a campaign structure that deserves to be paid attention to).

ARE WE IN Illinois really going to subject the nation’s political observers to the sight of a senator for eight weeks, to be followed up by the winner of Giannoulias/Kirk/whatever?

Are we in Illinois really that eager to give Roland Burris an unceremonial dump that we would boot him from Capitol Hill on Nov. 3, rather than Jan.3, 2011?

I would think we in Illinois would be better off creating less confusion on Election Day by just accepting the fact that we have “Roland, Roland, Roland” for another two months, and that he will be rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ out of Washington and into political retirement as of next year.

Yet I’m sure we’re going to get the ideologues who will claim some high-minded noble goal is at stake in booting Burris from Washington sooner, rather than later.

FOR THOSE OF you who think it is just as simple a matter as letting the person who wins the full six-year term on Nov. 2 take office eight weeks early, no it isn’t.

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of demanding that the courts impose a special election, you have to be prepared to have a separate full-fledged special election, and not think you can make a special case by which one person in this country who gets elected to the Senate in November can have a political bonus of two extra months.

I would think that the rest of the country would be jumping down our throats if Illinois tried to do that, because every other victorious candidate would think it unfair that their counterpart from Illinois managed to get a two-month jump start on building up seniority – just because their state couldn’t have a goofy situation such as we had in Illinois back at the beginning of 2009.

WBEZ-FM in Chicago reported that the Illinois attorney general’s office is still studying the appeals court’s ruling, trying to figure out if there is some way they can interpret it so that there won’t have to be a full-fledged election, or if this is now going to have to wind up before the Supreme Court of the United States.

BECAUSE I AM hoping Illinois does not have to go through the embarrassment of having a separate election, and having significant numbers of people get confused on Election Day and wind up casting ballots for people for the wrong post as a result.

The Chicago Tribune reported recently how Burris, during 2009, received a pension of $121,747 for his years of government service (those three terms as state comptroller, along with one as state attorney general), along with his $174,000 salary for representing Illinois (in pretty much a competent, low-key manner) in the U.S. Senate.

If that were the case, I might just have to do a write-in vote for Burris. Roland for eight more weeks, then he gets to take his bucks accumulated during the past year and await the day he gets his final rest in that glorious tomb he already has had constructed for himself.


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