Although Pay-Rod and the Blagola scandal brought it to the nation's attention, the appointments issue is more a question of democratic principle than of one Democrat's lack of it. Most governors faced with a Senate vacancy do the right thing, make perfectly sensible choices, and, as often as not, watch their picks flame out in the next election. Since that pattern has now persisted around the country for a century, it only underscores why the direct election of senators was such a fundamental breakthrough in the first place. When it comes to choosing the people's elected representatives, no intermediary—not legislatures, not governors, not the courts—can come close to speaking for us. The Progressive Era taught us the wisdom of crowds: In a democracy, if there's handpicking to be done, we're better off doing it ourselves.
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