This coming weekend Republicans meet in Lowell and Libertarians in Woburn to nominate candidates for statewide office. Democrats will gather June 1 in Worcester to
choose their nominees. The actual party standard-bearers, in cases where more than one
is nominated, won't be known until after September's primary election.
The price we Independents pay for independence is to pick in September from what we
are offered; in November, we make the best of what we have. So it behooves us to wish
all party activists well.
The Libertarian candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are Carla Howell and
Rick Aucoin. Principled, focused and idealistic, Libertarians have a simple agenda: Small
government, freedom, personal responsibility.
Many of us accept these basic concepts, but either have become accustomed to government handouts or recognize that anyone trying to make government a lot smaller
will run into federally-protected contracts and lawsuits that gubernatorial vetoes of
legislative spending proposals can't address. It would be interesting to have a chance to
push that envelope, though.
The Libertarians keep us aware that liberty, not high-tax serfdom, was once the American
Republicans speak of similar goals, but often settle for less-big government and more
personal freedom and responsibility than moderate or liberal Democrats would
encourage. They, too, have only one candidate for governor this year, and an interesting
battle for lieutenant governor between, in neutral alphabetic order, Jim Rappaport and
Woman who assumes we have learned nothing from the last affirmative-action choice for
Fired by the possibility that Mitt Romney can win this race, the Republican party will be
actively recruiting more legislative candidates at its convention to help him govern. Let's
hope, if elected, they will be more useful than most legislative Republicans were when
Weld, Cellucci and Swift needed votes to support slowing government growth.
The Three Governors have been criticized over the years for not helping build the
Republican Party, because it is in everyone's best interest to have a viable two-party
system. But as good as Republican legislators can be as allies on issues like Proposition
2½ and tax cuts, they can be frustrating to work with because of their institutional need
for pork for their districts and desire to be re-elected above everything else.
While the Republican activists I know stand proudly for limited government, some
Republican politicians get defensive and try to hide from their party label and platform
ideals. Governors Weld, Cellucci and Swift took the "no new taxes" pledge and vetoed
many of the more outrageous spending proposals passed by the Legislature; but many
Republican legislators joined Democrats in overriding those vetoes, thus helping create the
current spending crisis.
Then, incredibly, state Rep. Susan Pope, R-Wayland, recently became the first politician
in two decades to publicly call for the abolition of Prop 2½. This kind of betrayal is rare,
but hard to take from someone who should know better, and makes me glad I'm an
Independent so I don't have to apologize for her.
Regardless of party affiliation, since the ability of the Democratic legislative leadership to
raise taxes this year depends on how many incumbents have an opponent this fall, we
hope that citizens are inspired by the top of their tickets to run.
Moderate and liberal Democrats generally do well as legislative candidates because they
come from a culture of running for office. Among its features: The pro-government
mindset that makes public office an acceptable job choice to their families and community,
aggressive union and public employee activists, and rhetoric that offers voters something
at someone else's expense.
Conservative Democrats are sometimes better for taxpayers than moderate Republicans,
but we haven't had many of those running recently, and no, Tom Finneran isn't one.
The Republican Party once dominated Massachusetts politics; its downhill slide began in
the middle of the last century with its support for birth control in a Catholic state. You'd
think that grateful women voters would give credit where it's due instead of voting for
Democrats who claim they care about "the children" and Republicans don't. Had it not
been for the GOP, there'd be a lot more children about which to care!
Another problem is that Republicans, like us Independents, find other things to do with
their lives than run for office, so there is a much smaller pool of potential candidates.
These often have a naive, private-sector misunderstanding of the political arena, and their
private-sector employed supporters often have little opportunity to take time off for
holding signs and distributing flyers.
Independents who don't want to run themselves should adopt a limited-government
candidate this year, just to create a healthy balance between fantasy small government
and the giant, more expensive government that we are going to get without a strong
Concerned taxpayers would be well-advised to support challengers to
potential tax-hikers. A campaign contribution won't cost as much, after all, as all those tax
increases that will soon be debated on Beacon Hill.