Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some thoughts on....what else? The Mass senate race

I've been watching the Mass senate race from my perch in Toronto, although I'm not sure this has provided me with any significant emotional distance.  But I have been asking myself over and over again: why are you so wrapped up in this race?  I think I've come up with a few answers.

1. This race is not about gay marriage. Scott Brown has dumped the issue, and poll after poll show that this is not an issue Mass voters care about anymore.  It's settled in Massachusetts.  The National Organization for Marriage has been spinning this otherwise, despite the fact that their candidate has accepted Massachusetts law as allowing same-sex marriage.  So why do I bring the issue to the election?  One simple reason.  I do not want people to forget history. I do not want politicians who were on the wrong side of history to get away with minimizing the issue that they exploited when emotions were high. This is what Scott Brown did.  He was the elected official who publicly labeled a gay couple's family "not normal."

2. When I think of it -- really think of it -- my life won't change significantly if Brown wins.  I have health coverage.  I'm married in Massachusetts.  We have had to cut back because of the economy, but nothing like others have had to do.  But there's more than direct change that weighs on my mind.  There's emotional change.  I'm now in Canada, where health care for all and marriage for all is a given.  It's really not up for debate.  I find a deep and abiding peace knowing that everyone I meet on the street can get health care if they need it.  Call me a bleeding heart.  I take that as a compliment.  But I am happier in a place that I know cares for those who need it most.

3. I'm from Massachusetts!  I've always been proud of my state.  As a kid, I remember putting an anti-Nixon bumper sticker up on my bedroom wall: don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts.  It pains me to see the mere possibility of my state being the state that kills health care.  That kills much of the Obama agenda, despite the problems I have had -- and have written about on this blog -- with the President.

4. Massachusetts Republicans have always been a special breed of Republican, a breed that many Democrats like myself might not support, but could live with.  We could honestly say that our Republicans would be left wing Democrats in many states!  These Republicans have always been social liberals: William Weld, Paul Celucci, Frank Sargeant, and, our last Republican Senator, Ed Brooke.  Mitt Romney ran as a moderate Republican but did an about face once he smelled the White House coffee. Scott Brown is not a moderate Republican. He is not the sort of Republican we have typically elected in Massachusetts.  He may be moderate by national standards, but not by Massachusetts standards.

So there you have it.  There's not much I can do but to drive back from Toronto on Monday, wake up early on Tuesday, vote, and then close my eyes and wait, hoping that when I open my eyes I'll realize I worried far too much about this election than I needed to.

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