I think I’m probably more tolerant of the idea of political “dynasties” than most. The whole Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton thing never bothered me all that much, and if voters want to elect a past-or-present politician’s spouse/son/daughter/niece/2nd cousin once removed to represent them that’s their right, and their business, and that’s largely ok with me in a representative society. There’s certainly nothing to say that Beau Biden or, perhaps, Chelsea Clinton wouldn’t make a good elected official, and indeed their proximity to government may make them better public servants, as they get an understanding of government few others have short of actually serving in office. That said, I do largely agree with Jane Hamsher that it’s problematic when someone is appointed to office almost soley on the basis on familial status, the success of Ted Kennedy notwithstanding.

But I’ll do Hamsher one better. When you look at the vacancies in New York and Illinois, two heavily Democratic states, the governors of each state are basically hand picking the person who is going to fill those seats for the foreseeable future. Whomever ultimately gets the appointment is unlikely to face serious challenge from within the Democratic Party, and is even more unlikely to lose to a Republican in a statewide general election. It strikes me as a bit untoward to have so much power vested in one person, and to that end I propose a simple solution; anyone appointed to fill out a term, or part of a term, of a vacated Congressional seat is subsequently ineligible to run to fill the seat permanently, at least in the election immediately following their appointment. That’s basically what happened with Joe Biden’s seat, and I think that’s a pretty good model of how appointments ought to work. The replacement is likely to very closely mirror Biden in terms of views and votes, which respects the will of the majority that elected Biden in the first place, and by not running for re-election Kaufman gives the people of Delaware a chance to pick a long term representative in much more Democratic fashion.

It would be nice if other states took note.