As Ben Franklin emerged from the Constitutional convention on its last day, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked him, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic,” replied the Doctor, if you can keep it.”
One thing is absolutely certain, my favorite cynic tells me: “Because we live in a representative Republic in which politicians stand for election by the public, the public ALWAYS deserves the politics it receives from its representatives.” Or, as Henry Mencken once put it, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
None of the founders of our country, democracy tooters may be surprised to learn, favored democracy as a form of government. Students of history, the founders knew that democracy could only be successful in small – very small – political units. The demos, the root word in our modern conception of “democracy,” and the polis, the root word in our modern conception of politics, the founders believed, might most successfully be governed through a representative republic.
Democracy, possible within town hall municipal meetings, an assembly of constituents, is nearly impossible in state political gatherings such as Connecticut’s General Assembly, a conventicle of elected representatives. Even less so is democracy possible in larger political organizations such as the U.S. Congress.
Alexander Hamilton put all this in sharp focus when he said in a speech to Congress in 1788, “It has been observed by an honorable gentleman, that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”
The five members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, all Democrats, claim they are representatives of their constituents, as they repeatedly tell us, even though a sizable portion of their constituents are members of an opposition party or unaffiliateds. Because there are among the members of the U.S. Congressional Delegation no dissenters from a different party, majority Democrats are also motivated by party interests, and therefore display a double allegiance: first, they say, to their constituents, and secondly to their party, state and national.
Take, by way of example, U.S. Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut’s 4th District. We are told on Himes’ fluffy “House Government About” page that Himes is now serving his “eighth term. He serves as Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and on the House Financial Services Committee.” These committees affect national matters that extend far beyond the borders of the 4th District.
In fact, most matters considered by any and all of the all-Democrat members of Connecticut’s U. S. Congressional Delegation are more extensive than those parochial issues affecting only their constituents, both Democrat and Republican, who live in their respective Districts. U.S. Congresspersons are national representatives whose political purview is much different than that of a state or town representative.
And so, one would expect national interests – particularly representative votes on matters of national interests such as budget expenditures, foreign policy issues, etc. – to loom large in any reelection campaign involving prospective U.S. Representatives.
However, robust discussion of national issues has rarely occurred among Himes and his Republican challengers.
That may change if Bob MacGuffie emerges from a Republican primary as a party endorsed candidate in the once bipartisan U. S. Congressional Delegation.
Sacred Heart University Professor Gary Rose, often consulted by Connecticut reporters on state politics, suggests a robust battle may emerge –provided it is permitted to emerge -- between MacGuffie and Himes.
“Rose stated in an e-mail interview with Patch.com,” reporter Scott Benjamin writes: “‘MacGuffie is waging a bare-knuckle campaign intended to unseat Congressman Himes. As a candidate, MacGuffie is quite unlike the previous Republicans who have sought to unseat the congressman. MacGuffie's style is hard hitting, provocative and he has conducted an impressive amount of research regarding Himes' position and votes on a variety of national issues.’
“Rose added, ‘MacGuffie's campaign updates posted on the internet are unlike anything that I have observed during my many years of following and writing about congressional politics in the 4th CD.’”
Bob MacGuffie likes to mix it up. He says of his forthright approach to things political, “I came out of Queens. I came out of the school yards. I was small. Naturally you get picked on. So naturally I developed a sharp tongue and dressed these guys down.”
A former leader of the Tea Party in Connecticut, MacGuffie last March announced he was seeking the Republican nomination to run against Himes in the upcoming 2024 election. Himes’ previous challengers, MacGuffie said, “didn’t run aggressive campaigns. They were afraid of the aggressive line of attack.”
Here is a partial listing of MacGuffie’s campaign updates:
Even a compromised partisan media will notice that nearly all of MacGuffie’s postings rightly relate to matters of national importance, the province of U.S. Congressional representatives.
It is rather fortunate for Himes that Connecticut’s lackadaisical media has not, so far, permitted MacGuffie to stretch himself out in their mainstream media outlets.
No surprise there. Connecticut’s media is even less interested than Himes in probing matters of national importance during a robustly contested election campaign, a rarity in Himes’ case. The opposite of a robust campaign is one smothered in acceptable party treacle churned out by media favored incumbents, one of the reasons there has been very little turnover in Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation.