Who Cares About That Nasty Ol' State Constitution, Anyway?
The Tennessee Constitution says that appeals court judges are to be elected, but what does that matter-elections are just awful, aren't they
Imagine, if you will, that our State Government decided to ignore a critical part of the Tennessee Constitution. Suppose, as an example, that the Governor and a substantial number of members of the General Assembly decided that one House of the Legislature shouldn't have to stand for election, despite the fact that the State Constitution clearly says that both Houses must be elected by popular vote within their respective districts. Imagine if the Governor declared one day that Senators shouldn't have to stand for direct election, and that a number of them agreed with the idea, and even promoted it. Those arguing in favor of this extra-constitutional maneuver may have a good argument in saying that Senators, as members of the Upper Chamber, should be the deliberative body of sober thought designed to check the popular passions often unleashed in the House. That was, Senators might say, the original purpose of the federal Senate (and they would be right).
As to what to do about the inconvenient little fact that the Tennessee Constitution orders the direct popular election of members of the State Senate, the Legislature could solve that problem by having a commission appoint the Senators, and having a "Yes/No" retention vote when a State Senator's term expires. The retention vote can be set up in such a way that the State can say that it is an "election," even though the Senators won't really have to campaign anymore. Most people eventually won't care who their Senators are because they will never hear from them, and only those of us who might be considered "political nerds" would know something of the composition of the Tennessee Senate. It might turn out better that way, since Senators would be free to make sober and serious decisions and act as a check on what might be the temporary popular mood.
Labels: Conservatism, Elections, Local politics, Tennessee politics