Massachusetts is Blue.  Kinda

By David Wilder – May 19, 2024

Living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as I do, I’ve heard plenty of views about who we are.

When you think of Massachusetts, what comes to mind?  Leaving the contentious topic of pro sports aside (I don’t want to brag…) it may be our progressive tendencies.  After all, we’ve been the vanguard for abolition, gay rights, and many other social issues.  Perhaps it’s the political personalities we vote for.  If you’re lucky you are recalling the joyous decadence of a lobster roll overlooking one of our beautiful beaches.  If you are recalling the traffic around Boston, or traffic getting to the Cape in the summer, the word “Masshole” may come to mind.

And yes, we can be a pretty wicked stubborn bunch.  Surviving at Plymouth, that tea-party thing in the harbor, Lexington and Concord.  To this day we celebrate the ‘shot heard ‘round the world’ on Patriots Day.  Outsiders just know it as the Boston Marathon.   Ever watch the civil war movie Glory?  That was about the 54th Massachusetts infantry.  The Olympic ‘Miracle on Ice’ had the advantage of 4 Boston University athletes – Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Jack O’Callahan, and Dave Silk.  Luckily for us, Russia had no one from Massachusetts playing for them.

Give us the right cause and Massachusetts can be as fierce and stubborn as anyone.

A more modern example was a ballot measure in Massachusetts addressing the shady practices used to finance elections.  To the surprise of no one, the measure to “Fix it” was passed easily in 2018.  The ‘fix’ was coming up with an amendment to the US Constitution that would insure elections were controlled by constituents, and not outside influences ( ).

This authorized the creation of a committee to come up with the fix.  Of the 15 members, 3 were appointed by the Republican Governor.  The rest were appointed by senior elected Democrats.  Three each by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Attorney General, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate President.  Amending the constitution is a serious endeavor, so Massachusetts intended to put it’s best and brightest to the task.  The Massachusetts Citizens Commission (MCC) was formed.

They went to work.  This meant a deep dive into the legal issues that might be relevant.  Many experts, from all sides, gave their opinions and testimonies.  A year later their report came out.  The full text can be downloaded here:

That report includes some comments from those testifying.  They add a sense why this measure passed so easily (p9);

We need to bring back Congress to the people.”

I am very uncomfortable as an American citizen with the inherently corrupt, money-based political system in which we live today. America once prided itself on being a beacon of democracy for the world but now we are more of an oligarchy ruled by corporations and billionaires. I feel like my voice is being drowned out by special interests.”

If you are not part of the oligarchy mentioned above, you probably relate to these sentiments.  I suspect even those outside Massachusetts can understand the frustration and sense of betrayal expressed.  If our representatives are not representing our values and concerns, the question becomes “Who are they representing?”.

In concluding their report, the MCC noted the difficulties involved in getting a new amendment in place.  Article V of the Constitution defines the two ways this can be done.  Working through Congress is the typical way, but they noted “… it appears this approach requires overcoming partisan deadlock in Washington.”

2017 Phoenix Planning Convention with 72 commissioners from 19 states in attendence. They organized for an upcoming BBA.

The second path is where they put more faith.  Here the states hold a limited scope convention to propose amendment(s) that bypasses Congressional deadlock.  In their words “After significant review of a broad collection of materials, the Commission supports the approach for a limited-purpose convention under Article V. … The Commission supports a Massachusetts application for such a limited-purpose amendment convention.”

This is a remarkable conclusion!

Wait – I thought that was a right-wing, crazy idea to destroy the constitution!  An Article V Convention has many detractors and advocates, from both sides of the political spectrum.    The MCC cut through all the passionate partisan arguments and concluded a limited-purpose convention was the way to go.  Their careful consideration confirmed it poses no threat to ‘run-away’ and was the trusted method for the people’s voice to be heard.  Massachusetts has officially concluded an Article V States convention is the way to fix what Congress cannot.

Getting fairness back in government seems not to be a red topic, or a blue topic, but a red, white and blue one.  Way to go Massachusetts!

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