- - Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Back in the dusty recesses of history, Massachusetts briefly had a Republican senator. His name was Scott Brown. Mr. Brown, during the campaign for the seat, unleashed a memorable line that got to the heart of our republican form of government.

The year was 2010 and longtime Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy had recently died. Mr. Brown was running to fill out the remainder of his term. At a debate, an aghast local journalist asked Mr. Brown how he could possibly sit in “Ted Kennedy’s seat” as a Republican. To which Mr. Brown replied: “it’s not the Kennedy’s seat … it’s the people’s seat.”

The United States has long had a tension between our rightfully meritocratic system and the unhealthy practice of nepotism. When Rep. John Dingell, the long-serving Michigan congressman retired, for instance, the seat was passed on to his wife, Debbie Dingell. The Bushes, the Bidens and the Kennedys are all practitioners of the tawdry practice, which elevates bloodlines over talent.

When Elijah Cummings, the Maryland congressman, died last year, he made it clear he wanted “his” seat to pass on to his wife, Maya Cummings. Mrs. Cummings duly ran for the seat as a Democrat. The primary was held on Tuesday.

And Mrs. Cummings was creamed, with former Congressman and NAACP honcho Kweisi Mfume winning in a rout. He will now face Republican Kimberly Klacik.

It’s not the Elijah Cummings seat. It’s the people’s seat.

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