I am a proud Democrat and I strongly support the progressive values embedded in our party platform. Currently in the Massachusetts Legislature, the power to legislate is centralized with the Speaker of the House in the House of Representatives, and with the Senate President of the Senate. They have the power to appoint people to committees, appoint the chairs of those committees, appoint leadership positions in the majority party, and have enormous influence over the state budget. If state legislators do not respect the wishes of their chamber’s leadership they can lose their leadership position, chairmanship of a committee, favored committee position, and even funding for their district. The Speaker and Senate President decide who gets an office with a prime view of the city, or who is banished to the windowless basement. We have seen undue influence by Speaker Deleo as we have witnessed dozens of lawmakers switch from opposing a casino bill under Speaker DiMasi, to supporting casinos under DeLeo. It is becoming increasingly clear that individual members of the House and Senate are not free to speak or even vote their minds.
A deliberative assembly should be full of free and fair debate. Each representative and senator should have an equal say in the deliberative process. That is the essence of a Representative Democracy. Apparently we don’t have a democracy in the House and Senate, we have despotism. The dynamic of power in the Massachusetts Legislature is inherently undemocratic and wrong. This centralization of power in the hands of the Speaker and Senate President enables lobbyists to more easily influence legislation. Three speakers in a row have been indicted with charges of corruption. Although the Speaker and Senate President are both Democrats, we have the right to say that this mockery of democracy is unacceptable and contrary to the values of the Democratic Party. We work hard as party activists to elect Democrats to the House and Senate, and we have a right to expect their allegiance to their constituents and not be compromised by pressure from leadership. Many Democrats feel frustrated with the “go along to get along” culture on Beacon Hill and they want an opportunity to voice their opinions without having to vote Republican.
That’s why I have started a grassroots organization called “Democrats for Reform of the Massachusetts Legislature”. We will work within the Democratic Party to change the system and restore democracy to the Statehouse. If you are tired of top-down leadership on Beacon Hill, please visit our website and join our movement at massdems4reform.comand attend our first general interest meeting on Saturday, March 3rd at 1:00 PM at the
southborough public library Southboro House of Pizza 5 Main St, Southborough, MA 01772 You can RSVP and invite your friends here. We will develop a plan to push for reforms at the statehouse; whether it be through lobbying our state representatives, or organizing a grassroots campaign. Together we can make the Legislature something we can all be proud of.
Founder of Massachusetts Democrats for Reform of the Massachusetts Legislature.