The following is a letter to the editor from Dennis Galvin, presumptive Republican candidate for the Second Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
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As the citizens of this Commonwealth approach the fall elections, there is one issue, perhaps more than any other that underscores the challenge that Massachusetts faces. This issue is one party rule. There are many reasons why this situation has occurred. Historians and political pundits can spend hours justifying or condemning it, but there are certain facts that attach to one party government that voters need to carefully consider.
First and foremost is that one party rule elevates the House and Senate leadership from the position of moderators within the legislative branch, to powerbrokers with significant statewide influence, rivaling that of the Governor and other constitutional officers. The problem is that this legislative leadership is not subject to statewide voter accountability. Today, the House Speaker and Senate President form a ruling triumvirate with the Governor. Of the three, only the Governor is directly accountable to the voters.
Second, one party rule creates serious conflicts of interest throughout state government. Members of a political party maintain close alliances with one another. These are critical for maintaining political power and influence during elections. When these relationships carry over into government operations, and are unchecked by competing political allegiances, they can thwart and subvert efforts to ensure proper oversight. Government managers often find themselves torn between their duty to serve the interests of the people and party loyalty. This affects their willingness to expose wrongdoing and abuse.
Third, the options available to address the challenges facing the people become limited. All political parties operate with assumptions that govern the formulation of their view of public policy. When these assumptions go unchallenged and compromises with competing points of view do not occur, only one perspective is relied on and often bad policy results.
Fourth, equality before the law erodes. One party government elevates the influence of special interests. Lobbyists become important players in formulating policy. When there is no opposition to the status quo, those with particular interests attempt to influence party leaders using whatever means they can muster. This has the effect of reviving “status” as a consideration in deciding how government benefits, privileges and opportunities will be dispensed. Ultimately only two classes of citizens are recognized, those who can help the party or are entitled to its largesse, and everybody else.
Fifth, one party rule eventually leads to social conflict and ultimately oppression. Public policy narrows under the influence of one idea. One party government cannot create wealth it can only redistribute it. The pie gets smaller. Those on the losing end of the equation will increasingly press their petitions and concerns and defend what they believe are their rights. But as Lord Acton once said: “absolute power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Party leaders, using the apparatus of government, will begin to suppress this dissent. This suppression may even become ruthless. The end result is a society governed by fear.
The election this fall in Massachusetts is more than just about reducing taxes or spending. It is about whether the great democratic spirit and traditions of this Commonwealth will survive and thrive or be relegated to the realm of nostalgia.