There’s a special election being held in Massachusetts today.
See, after a nine-term senator died of brain cancer – and let me tell you, nothing restores my faith in representative government than the son of America’s most popular political dynasty drowning a woman after driving while drunk, then going on to serve another seven terms – a seat opened up in Congress. This would merit nothing more than a historical footnote, except that this puts the Ruling Party’s balance of power at its most precarious point ever, at least since winning the Presidency and a majority in both Houses. So the Ruling Party nominated Massachusetts’ attorney general to run for the Senate seat, a prosecutor who (successfully) lobbied for a demonstrably innocent man to be denied parole, defended the most tragicomic overreaction of emergency personnel in the first decade of the War on Terror, and argued (unsuccessfully) before the Supreme Court that defendants should have no right to cross-examine the lab experts whose evidence may condemn them. The Opposition Party, never one to offer substance when style might serve, nominated a former centerfold who supports increased troop presence in America’s Least Winnable War (three-way tie), supports torture, and gives the same reluctant, caviling, yes-but-wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if support to a woman’s sovereignty over her own reproductive organs that any hardcore Opposition Party member who doesn’t advocate anarchy must give.
This election wouldn’t be half as critical were it not for the health care reboot bill trundling its way through Congress. If the Ruling Party maintains its tenuous hold on power (with the President and the majority in both Houses and all that), they just might manage to pass a bill that funnels money from the working poor to insurance companies by making health insurance mandatory. This bill was inspired by Governor Mitt Romney’s health care reboot in 2006, which the Opposition Party candidate voted for and still defends. But he opposes the current national plan. Meanwhile, the Ruling Party candidate drew some flack for saying that private morals were not a sufficient reason to deny someone contraception. And yet she would probably be called on to support the current health care reboot bill, which states that being on the “public option” is sufficient reason to deny someone an abortion. So we have one candidate who supports expanding health care coverage, except when he doesn’t, and one candidate who believes no one should be denied access to abortive medicine, except when they can be.
“But Professor,” people tell me, “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” You think I’m complaining?