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The Anointed Party
Paul Corrigan

The GOP has turned democracy on its head. The Republican Party now views elections as anachronistic. Elections give too much power to the people. Democracy is no way to run a corporation and it is no way to run a country. Control of the executive branch of government, like control of senior management of a corporation, is for the selected, not the elected.

The GOP has shown in recent months two ways to select, not elect. The first is to anoint the executive even though he or she did not win the popular vote, as the Supreme Court did in the last presidential succession. The second is to anoint the executive by replacing an incumbent politician with a new one prior to the election, as seen in the last three Gubernatorial races in Massachusetts. Two strategies, but one cynical view of democracy.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Republicans acted out of desperation in Florida and are doing so again in Massachusetts. In Florida, with control of the presidency in the balance, selling out the integrity of the Supreme Court was not too high a price to pay to regain power. In Massachusetts, where Republicans are in a distinct minority, the GOP elite has picked one candidate for Governor instead of running a primary election. Jane Swift, who ascended to office when Governor Paul Cellucci escaped the "Big Dig" controversy and tough economic times to be Bush's ambassador to Canada, is the third Republican in a row to hand off the state's highest office. Actually, pushed aside would be a more apt description in Swift's case. Swift's standing in the polls and abandonment by her Party assured a defeat in the general election coming in November. This week, the dutiful soldier took one for the GOP, withdrawing from the race for governor so Mitt Romney could be handed the Republican nomination. She then invited him to the State House the next day for a photo opportunity with the media.

In Massachusetts, the Republicans like to run fiscal conservative candidates who are evasive about social issues like abortion. Keep the image and get rid of the record. Mitt Romney, son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, who ran for president in 1968, is Madison Avenue's dream candidate: handsome, rich, and successful. Most importantly, in the aftermath of September 11, Mitt comes to the campaign from the Olympics draped in the American flag. The short transition from his role as head of the Olympics in Salt Lake City to Republican candidate for governor gives him a national flair. Romney will wash his hands of the past 12 years of Republican governors. Doesn't Massachusetts need strong corporate management?

Historically, the ruling class in America has always stacked the democratic process in its own favor. Class, race, and gender barriers to voting are as American as apple pie. Our great nation first gave the voting franchise only to land-owning men. Residency, citizenship, and literacy requirements were used to disenfranchise the poor, African-American and Native-American men, and immigrants. Women were told they could not vote. Suffrage movements to break down these barriers, while successful to a point, met with continued resistance and procedural and practical limitations. Ironically, for most of those years, the Republican Party was the party of inclusion. Republicans were the party devoted to giving black men the franchise. They welcomed women's votes starting in 1920. But now votes aren't so precious to them. Remember Antonin Scalia's idiotic argument in Bush v. Gore: voters don't have the right to elect the president, but state legislatures do?

Women and African-Americans are barefoot, pregnant, and working on plantations when it comes to the highest offices in state or federal government. Despite their numbers, politics has been a wasteland for both groups. Women voters have been disparaged as know-nothing soccer moms. African-American men and women can testify that there is a real difference between the legal right to vote and actually having your vote counted. White men just keep making excuses for enjoying the spoils of privilege.

In Swift's wake there is a whisper amongst women in Massachusetts that "powerful men" have once again gotten their way. Something tells me that whisper will get louder and louder. The party that keeps telling us how much it cares about women was quick to cut the legs out from the first woman governor of Massachusetts. These Republican hypocrites might be in for a little payback. In a crowded Democratic field, with Independents having the incentive to vote in the Democratic primary, the women of Massachusetts might just vote their gender and put a woman back in the executive office. Jane Swift may have handed Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Shannon O'Brien the club to not only beat her Democratic rivals, but Mitt Romney as well.

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