The two premises upon which all Western democracies are based are the consent of the governed and the rule of law. We get to make our own rules, and once we make them, everyone has to follow them.
Dictators and mullahs, like Saddam and Osama, reject these two ideas out of hand. They believe that the leaders should lead and the people should do what they're told. Saddam rejects the law and Osama rejects the consent of the governed.
Today, in the Massachusetts legislature
, 109 liberal legislators proudly declared themselves Saddam-ites. They shamelessly, openly and without apology abandoned the rule of law at the Constitutional Convention considering the same-sex marriage amendment.
The "Con Con," as locals call it, was only convened because the legislature had to--the state constitution is very clear on this. The people did their part by gathering more than 170,000 signatures for the amendment and presenting them to the legislature.
In July, the legislature did its part...by postponing a vote until two days after the November election
. In Massachusetts, this is known as a "profile in courage."
Today, the legislators were faced with a simple choice: Either vote "yes" to send the amendment on to the next step, or vote "no" and kill it now. Even if they had voted "yes," the constitution still requires the approval of TWO consecutive legislatures before the amendment reaches the ballot box. We're not exactly talking mob rule here.
But it was still too much democracy for the Democrats of Massachusetts. Today--two years away from the next election--the legislature voted...to not vote. They voted to recess until January 2nd, the last day this legislature will exist. And they've told the amendment's opponents that they have no plans to meet that day.
This presents a problem. Under the Massachusetts constitution, "A proposal for an amendment to the constitution introduced by initiative petition shall be voted upon."
The legislature has no choice. They are constitutionally required to vote on the amendment, up or down.
If they adjourn without voting, the governor and/or Supreme Judiciary Court would, in theory, order them into session. This reveals the master stroke of the Saddam-ites: There simply won't be enough time.
If the legislature has adjourned today without voting, Gov. Romney could have ordered them back into session under the law, and he could continue to do so for the next two months--and Mitt Romney, with an eye to South Carolina's GOP primary, would have been happy to oblige.
However, when this recess ends on January 2, the governor of Massachusetts will be Deval Patrick. Even if he wanted to enforce the law (a highly unlikely scenario for a same-sex marriage supporter like Patrick), there simply won't be enough time. At midnight, January 3, this legislature will no longer exist.
Will the legislature have broken the law? Of course! Will they have violated the constitution? Absolutely! Will they have screwed over 170,000 citizens of Massachusetts? No doubt about it!
But will anyone else care? Ay, there's the rub...
The liberals of the Massachusetts legislature will have illegally forced the amendment's supporters to start over and gather another mountain of signatures. Of course, these citizens with families to feed and bills to pay, may respond by saying "Why bother?" After all, if the legislature is prepared to abandon the constitution and flagrantly violate the law today, why shouldn't we expect them to do the same tomorrow? If anything, the new legislature, like the new governor, will be even MORE liberal than the current one.
In any other state, the decision of an elected legislature to throw the petitions of 180,000 citizens in the trash--and break the law in order to do so--would be considered outrageous, shameless and unacceptable.
In Massachusetts? It's just another day in paradise. If the Iraqis don't want to shoot Saddam Hussein, I'm sure we can find him a place in the Massachusetts legislature.
UPDATE: Some listeners/emailers are claiming that today's vote was merely postponed a vote that actually will occur in January and, therefore, no law is broken and the issue will be decided then. Here's what the anti-democracy group MassEquality said
about today's actions:"MassEquality campaign director Marc Solomon late today hailed the move by the Legislature to recess the Constitutional Convention until Jan. 2, thereby all but guaranteeing defeat of the proposed ballot measure."