Here in Cow Hampshire, we have a pretty healthy two-party system. True, the Republicans have largely dominated, but we just tossed one of them out for a Democrat for governor. We’ve also had other Democrats in the House, the governor’s office, and in the state legislature. It’s good; it keeps both parties on their toes and relatively honest.
One of the things that keeps it easy is the graphic example of a one-party state just to our south.
The Republicans in Massachusetts must occasionally feel like the Jews in Iraq — an incredibly small minority surrounded by hostility, but with a sheer stubborn bent that insists that where they are is their home. But it’s never easy.
Yes, Massachusetts has had a string of Republican governors, but that’s largely attributable to 1) the voters realizing that giving the Democrats all the power would be tantamount to suicide; B) the Democratic machine feeling the need to keep some token Republicans around that they can plausibly blame for problems and rail against; and III) the sheer crappy quality of the Democratic candidates for governor.
But when you look beyond the corner office, though, you see just how bad things are in Massachusetts. In 2002, the Republicans didn’t even bother to run someone against John Kerry. This year, four of Massachusetts’ ten Representatives (all Democrats, BTW) ran unchallenged, and a fifth was up against an independent. That’s right — the Republicans couldn’t find candidates for the United States House of Representatives in exactly HALF the seats.
The legislature — where the real power resides — is even more telling. Before yesterday, the Democrats had (I am not making these numbers up) 33 out of 40 State Senate seats, and 138 of 160 seats in the State House. Governor Romney’s vetos were overridden with barely a yawn. This time Romney went all out for Republican candidates, hoping to pick up at least enough Republicans to sustain an occasional veto.
Instead, the Democrats look like they gained yet another Senate seat, and two more House seats.
This does not bode well for those of us in New Hampshire. Every year we notice more and more refugees from Massachusetts streaming north. That wouldn’t be so bad, but so many of them immediately start wanting to recreate the conditions they just fled. They forget just why they came here, and just how bad things were down there.
So learn from Massachusetts’ bad example. Don’t give too much power to a single party. Keep a healthy opposition around to keep them on their toes. For when one party grows fat and lazy and complacent, you end up with things like Michael Dukakis. And John Forbes Kerry.
And Edward Moore Kennedy.