House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he is not terribly surprised by voters' anger and disgust with government. He should not be, as he has contributed to it.
Speaking to the State House News Service (Eagle, March 5), the Democratic leader observed that controversial Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's one-sided victory in last Tuesday's Massachusetts primary attests to the voter unhappiness seen around the nation this election season. He wondered if that anger generally targeted at Washington had or would manifest itself at the state level.
The anger is there in Massachusetts, although it is not as virulent as the fury justly directed at Washington. However, the speaker's success in ending term limits for his position in January of 2015 is a textbook example of the haughtiness that fuels voter anger and cynicism.
Mr. DeLeo, who was a proponent of term limits when he was elected speaker in 2009, told reporters last January that his position on term limits had "evolved" since then. What had clearly evolved was his affection for an influential position whose power is all but unchecked. The House dumped term limits by a largely party line 109-45 vote.
The speaker-for-life told the State House News Service that he is proud of the absence of bickering and gridlock in Boston that is prevalent in Washington, and indeed Beacon Hill shouldn't emulate Capitol Hill. However, it is fair to wonder if the relative calm on Beacon Hill is because everyone works so happily together or because powerful legislative leaders who frown on dissent have successfully stifled it.