During the spring semester of 2019, I attended a Governor’s Council hearing at the Massachusetts State house. I was lucky enough to be invited to the hearing by my aunt who is currently serving her 5th term on the council. Attending the hearing gave me great insight to what the council does during their weekly hearings (a subject many people in Massachusetts are unaware of). The primary focuses of this post will be to shed light on the importance of council as well as reflect on individuals general knowledge of their local government and how that shapes what many refer to as “democratic erosion” here in the United States.
The Massachusetts Governor’s Council is comprised of eight elected individuals from the eight districts of Massachusetts. Aside from the council members the lieutenant governor serves as the 9th member and the ex officio. The Council records advice and consent regarding gubernatorial appointments, warrants for the state treasury, and pardons and commutations. Massachusetts Constitution, Chapter 2, Section III, Article I states, “There shall be a council for advising the governor in the executive part of government, to consist of [nine] persons besides the lieutenant governor, whom the governor, for the time being, shall have full power and authority, from time to time, at his discretion, to assemble and call together. And the governor, with the said councilors, or five of them at least, shall and may, from time to time, hold and keep a council, for the ordering and directing the affairs of the commonwealth, according to the laws of the land”. The insight about the council provided above provides a thorough explanation to what the Massachusetts’ Governor’s Council actually does for the state government.
Throughout the past 10 years I went from knowing absolutely nothing about the Council to meeting all members and witnessing first-hand what they do in their hearings. During this span it became every clear to me that many Massachusetts residents are unaware of the council and its jurisdiction, though they partake in voting for individuals every two years. This conclusion comes from the numerous events I have attended throughout my aunt’s five campaigns, where a majority of her focus was directed towards educating individuals of the 7th district on importance of the council. All biases aside I believe that electing the right members to this council is very important due to the fact they are appointing judges and other figures which has a major impact on individuals who face these appointed officials. I also believe the lack of knowledge or quality of information regarding candidates for numerous positions across the country is heavily skewed. Of course there are U.S. citizens who are properly informed, however I believe that more often than not individuals are not properly informed.
In conclusion, the observations I have made throughout the past 10 years regarding the public’s knowledge of the Massachusetts’s Governor’s Council goes hand in hand with the United States current symptoms of “democratic erosion”. It seems that U.S. citizens vote primarily for individuals linked to their party without taking the correct measures to be properly informed. Overall, this symptom of “democratic erosion” may become more of an issue in the future due to population increases and the increased difficulty for officials to fairly serve all U.S. citizens.