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Democracy always requires elections

Despite having a new president elected on a platform of change, politics are in a sad state in this country, and in Illinois especially.
One of the most appropriate examples of this was showcased recently when disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland, er, Sen. Roland Burris to complete President Obama’s senate term.
Let’s pretend for a minute that Blago isn’t a disgrace to this state, and that he’s a straight arrow.
Is it not absurd that one man gets to appoint the person who will represent 12 million people in Congress?
I mean, he’s appointing a senator. There are only 100 of them, so they’re kind of important.
Now coming back into the real world, Blagojevich is a disgrace. He allegedly tried to sell that very seat! Not to mention allegedly threatening to withhold state funds from Children’s Memorial Hospital, among other things.
This is the man that continually talks to the reporters posted outside his home in a track suit.
He is also the man who said “I’ve got this thing, and it’s [bleeping] valuable. I’m not giving it up for [bleeping] nothing.”
Last Friday, he also compared himself to a cowboy in the Wild West who couldn’t defend himself against a horse-stealing charge.
“They’re just hanging me,” the governor said.
Come on. This is the man who was able to appoint one of the most powerful men in the United States.
When the news of Blago’s arrest first came out, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn went on a tirade about having a special election in Illinois to elect a new senator.
Finally, I thought, we have an Illinois official who actually gets it.
But then Quinn said the election would cost too much, and the people of Illinois deserve a senator as soon as possible.
Was that actually true? Sen. Dick Durbin is the second most powerful senator. And he’s from Illinois. Obama is from Illinois. Most of Obama’s top advisors are from Illinois.
I think the citizens of this state would have been represented better than any other state until a special election could have occurred.
It’s time for people to argue this ridiculous rule. And Illinois isn’t the only state that does it this way.
In fact, we’re one of 41 states in which the governors get to appoint in situations like this one.
Sure, circumstances like Blagojevich’s don’t come up all that often. Especially right before an important appointment is to take place.
Regardless, Burris was chosen by one individual.
And Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Edward Kaufman of Delaware and Michael Bennett of Colorado were all chosen by their respective governors, and those governors alone, to serve in the United States Senate.
Here’s the problem with that – those governors are much more concerned with appointing someone that will benefit them politically, or monetarily in Blagojevich’s case (allegedly). That political benefit likely won’t benefit the people of those states.
It is so important that the citizens be able to directly elect those who will represent them. It is the very basis of our democracy.
We can change this. Write to your state representatives and state senators and hold Lt. Gov. (and most likely future Gov.) Pat Quinn to what his original plans were and ask them to please work to change this ludicrous law before we end up with another Roland Burris.
Sen. Roland Burris, that is.
Pat Oldendorf is a sophomore English and journalism major from Lockport. He is the Scout managing editor.
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