Not only are all other significant state offices occupied by Democrats, the governorship is in the hands of the very Democratic, very liberal, and very unpopular Deval Patrick. There is not even a token of Republican leadership to be found. And for the independent voters who will play a critical role in Tuesday’s election, Massachusetts’ one-party rule mirrors the one-party rule in today’s Washington, where national Democrats are deciding important issues among themselves without even the pretense of including Republicans.

Tuesday’s special election presents the first opportunity for Massachusetts voters to remedy the situation. Massachusetts has not sent a Republican to the Senate in more than a generation, but voters might take this chance to restore some small measure of balance to a government that is perhaps too blue even for a very blue state.

“This country was built on debate,” says Diane Anderson, a Brown voter from Swampscott, Massachusetts. “And with the Democrats having 60 senators…just for that fact alone, if for no other reason, we should continue to have debate, and Brown will bring debate, being the 41st Republican.”