In my first post for this new blog, I will discuss the Massachusetts Senate Race, endorse a candidate, and explain my rationale for that endorsement. I invite you to read, to agree, or to disagree. All I ask is that those who disagree do so courteously–without being disagreeable. This is a column for rational discourse and courteous debate of ideas and issues.
The Senate race for the seat formerly held by The Liberal Lion of the Senate, the late Ted Kennedy, here in Massachusetts, is about as close as it can get, with the election set for Tuesday–just one day away (January 19). It is Democrat Martha Coakley (currently Attorney General) vs. Republican Scott Brown (currently State Senator) The tone of the campaign has gotten really heated lately with both candidates flooding the television and radio airwaves with ubiquitous commercials.
On Friday night I went to a Rally for Martha Coakley which featured former President Bill Clinton, a supporter of Mrs. Coakley. You can see some of the photos from that event in the collage above or by clicking on my flickr site at the far right side of this page.
This race is an extremely important race–not only for Massachusetts, but also for the entire country!
“Why”” you ask.
One Major Reason: If Martha Coakley is elected, President Obama maintains his 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate. This allows him a more reasonable chance of passing the agenda on which he campaigned so successfully—the same agenda which caused him to be elected by an overwhelming majority of Americans. In particular, he needs every one of those 60 Democratic Senate votes in order to pass his Health Care Reform Act.
On the other hand, what are the national implications if her opponent is elected? Well, there’s the rub! Scott Brown, in fact, has pledged to be the 41st vote in the Senate to kill President Obama’s health care bill. In addition, his election would deny the Senate the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster on all of the items on President Obama’s current and future agenda. If the Republicans (with a possible 41 votes) are allowed to filibuster, many of Obama’s agenda items may never actually come to a vote.
My View on the Race:
It seems to me that Scott Brown is trying to paint himself as an Independent, rather than the staunch and dedicated Republican which he surely is. It IS true that he has voted with the Republic leadership 96 percent of the time–specifically 546 times with the Republican position as opposed to only 25 times against that Republican leadership position.
In fact, Scott Brown seems to be a conservative Republican in the same mold as Dick Cheney and George Bush, the two individuals most responsible for the financial crisis in which we now find ourselves and for the War in Iraq. Remember Republican George Bush calling himself a “Compassionate Conservative” to appeal to disaffected Democrats and Independents??? Hmmmmm…….A lot like Republican Scott Brown calling himself “independent” to appeal to all those “unenrolled” or “independent” voters!
What are some of the positions which alarm me most about Scott Brown?
1. He OPPOSES cracking down on Wall Street bonuses, and he wants to provide LESS Wall Street oversight.
2. He wants to kill the health care bill, saying that we need to craft a better health care bill. In a recent debate, the moderator pointed out that if this bill went down to defeat, it would likely be another 15 years (at least) before another bill would be introduced. This is what happened when the Clinton attempt at a health care bill was last defeated.
3. He is NOT a friend of education! He voted against smaller class sizes and for cutting funding for public colleges and universities.
4. He sponsored legislation to allow hospitals to deny contraception to rape victims.
5. He voted NO on a bill to provide for investment in and expansion of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts.
6. He voted AGAINST a bill which RESTORED all Mass Health benefits cut in 2002–including dental, vision, chiropractic, and prosthetics.
7. Incredibly, just one month after the September 11 attacks, Republican Scott Brown was one of only THREE Massachusetts state representatives to vote AGAINST a bill to provide financial assistance to Red Cross workers who had volunteered with the 9/11 recovery efforts. Fortunately, despite Republican Scott Brown’s NO vote, this bill which authorized leaves of absence for certain Red Cross workers participating in Red Cross emergencies still passed 148-3.
OK–enough about why I am NOT supporting Scott Brown, the Republican. Now, why am I SUPPORTING and enthusiastically ENDORSING Martha Coakley, the Democrat?
1. She has a very impressive background, having graduated cum laude from Williams College and receiving a J.D. degree from Boston University School of Law before serving as a lawyer, joining Boston’s organized Crime Strike Force as a Special Attorney, serving as Chief of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit, and investigating and prosecuting literally HUNDREDS of cases of both physical and sexual abuse of children, including the famous case of Louise Woodward.
2. She supports and will fight for the current health care bill, knowing that it is not perfect but that it is the best chance to bring healthcare to millions of men, women, and children who are now without any heathcare at all.
3. She has comprehensive and detailed plans to improve our economy. Specifically she has articulated clear plans for Middle Class and Small Business Relief Tax Program, a Jobs plan to get Americans back to work, and a plan for “enhanced financial reform” to prevent another economic collapse.
4. Martha Coakley has a strong record as Attorney General. She ” investigated and pursued cases related to housing discrimination, disability rights, fair lending, public accommodation, equal marriage, health care disparities, and hate crimes based on race, ethnicity, gender sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.”
5. As Attorney General and District Attorney of Middlesex County, she ” successfully advocated for and defended legislation to create and expand buffer zones around reproductive health care facilities to ensure the safety of patients and staff members.”
6. Martha Coakley is a tough, no-nonsense defender of the public interest. She stands up for the common man, woman or child when big banks, utility companies, insurance companies, and even the “Big Dig” take unfair advantage.
7. Martha Coakley supports our Veterans. She calls for improvements in delivering benefits, providing quality health care, ensuring a seamless transition to civilian life, supporting military families, and promoting commitment and respect.
8. Martha Coakley would be the first woman in Massachusetts to serve as Senator–breaking that glass ceiling for all the girls and young women who now sit in our classrooms pondering how they can help to shape the future.
For all of the above reasons (and many more) I fully support Martha Coakley for Senate.
Just a few more points: As many media and political pundits have theorized, this race is so close because citizens are really mad, and they are venting that anger on talk-radio, in letters to the editor, and in interviews.
Well, I’m angry too! I’m angry that so many people–including friends and family members–are unemployed or underemployed. I’m sick that so many have lost their homes or are fighting to hold on to them.
I’m frustrated that so many children arrive in our schools from poor homes, entering preschool or kindergarten so far behind already—with physical, cognitive, emotional or psychological problems–and our teachers are responsible for teaching more and more with devastating budget cuts impacting them at every turn.
I’m angry that we have lost so many of our young men and women to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–and so many more have been seriously injured and will suffer for years to come!
I’m angry that a child born in a struggling town in Western or Central Massachusetts (or Eastern Mass., for that matter) does not have the same opportunities as those born in a rich town or an affluent suburb of Boston (thanks to the unfairness of property taxes as a support for education).
HOWEVER, I would respectfully request that you do NOT displace your anger onto Martha Coakley. It was, after all, the REPUBLICANS who were in charge for the past EIGHT years! It was George Bush and Dick Cheney who got us into Iraq and into the “Great Recession” –even after inheriting a gigantic budgetary SURPLUS, courtesy of President Clinton. In Bush’s first term, he even had a majority in Congress.
For goodness sakes….you voted in overwhelming numbers for Barack Obama. Give him a chance! Even Ronald Reagan took a full term to make economic progress in our last recession.
I support our President. The economy is improving—people’s investments are coming back–thanks to improvements in the DOW and the NASDAQ. President Obama is TRYING very hard to fulfill his commitment on health care. You KNOW that if he had not made health care a priority, he never would have been able to do it later in his administration. We now have a President that we can respect—as a serious thinker, as an articulate speaker, as someone who LISTENS to others and surrounds himself with brilliant leaders in their fields, as someone who brings people together, as someone who cares.
Let me finish by noting that I admired the work of Ted Kennedy as Senator. Was he a perfect man? No, he had his flaws like so many of us do–and he spent his life atoning for them and attempting to improve the lives of children, women, the poor, the elderly, and the sick. Martha Coakley has attempted to do the same in her career thus far. It would be a tragedy to allow Scott Brown to win this Senate Seat–Scott Brown, a Republican who stands AGAINST so many of the positions for which Ted Kennedy gave so many years of his life!
Please, Go to the Polls on Tuesday of this week, and Vote Martha Coakley for Senate.