Things Are Different, Let's Just Appoint Everybody!From the very beginning of the Tennessee gubernatorial campaign (one that anyone who follows politics in this State agrees is starting way too early), there has never been any question that if Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey entered the race, Nicole and I would support Governor Ramsey. We have long believed that Ron Ramsey is someone who shares our values and believes in Tennessee the way that we believe in it.
One of the things that Ron Ramsey, as well as Republican leaders in both the Tennessee House and the Senate promised the voters that if a Republican majority were elected in both Houses, that the GOP would move to elect our judges as the Constitution requires:
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters he'd like,"a constitutional amendment to change the constitution and, in the meantime, allow the governor to appoint anybody he wants to which is exactly what we did until Winfield Dunn became governor in 1970 and Democrats didn't want him to appoint judges."
Lt. Gov. Ramsey reminded reporters, "I've come around, actually, on whether I feel like Supreme Court justices need to be elected or not. I believe having the Supreme Court justices might not be in the best interests of the people of Tennessee. Things are different than they were in 1870: the modern campaigning and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to run campaigns."
Ramsey's solutuion, then, is to attempt to amend the Constitution to do away with the popular election of judges, but continue to flout the Tennessee Constitution in the meantime by allowing the Governor to appoint these judges-a direct violation of the Tennessee Constitution. Using the same logic that Ramsey is using in the quote above-namely, that things are different than they were in 1870 (how progressive of the Lt. Governor!) and campaigning just costs too dang much-perhaps we should just start appointing the Governor. After all, the Constitution calls for the Governor's direct election, but it sure costs a lot to run for Governor, as Ramsey has reminded us in recent weeks. The Governor might be open to unwholesome influences from his or her campaign contributors.
While we're at it, perhaps we should examine the notion of appointing members of the General Assembly as well. As everyone knows (even the citizens who have never read the Tennessee Constitution, and please by no means read it unless you want you want your blood boiling at how our elected officials violate it on a daily basis) the State Constitution clearly calls for the General Assembly to be elected also. We've seen from Tennessee Waltz how money can corrupt our elected officials, and they have to be kept in the money just to be able to run for re-election. To avoid continual scandals involving the corrupting influence of money in politics, let's just appoint the General Assembly so that no one has to raise or spend any cash on being elected.
I ran for elected office last year. It took a whole lot of time and some money as well, and I lost by a very narrow margin. I have enough friends in high places around here that I could secure an appointment as Alderman or County Commissioner. I think I like this scheme of appointing officials that the State Constitution says we are supposed to elect, especially when I can be one of those to kiss the right arses and get an appointment.
What's that? You say you want to elect your leaders? What about the corrupting influence of money? You mean you would rather have a little corruption made public in a free voting system than a lot of hidden corruption which might influence appointments? But the Lieutenant Governor says he wants the Governor to appoint judges because things are different than they were in 1870...
Ron Ramsey is a fine human being with so many good ideas for making Tennessee a better place. If he keeps up at his current pace, however, he may not even make it to the August 2008 Republican Primary, let alone actually win it. First, he complained about his inability to raise money while the General Assembly was in session. A reasonable complaint, except that bringing it up now is a bit too convenient since he is a candidate presently affected by the law in question. Now, he says he doesn't want to elect judges in this State, a promise which he has not only broken to the voters, but a stance which can be seen to violate his very oath of office.
Unless Ramsey either changes his tune or learns when to keep silent, he will likely take pages from David Davis' unwritten book How to Lose An Election You Damn Well Should Have Won.