and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


Barbara's Column
January 2002 #2

Don't like what you see happening on Beacon Hill?
Get involved!

by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Thursday, January 10, 2002

Here is the column in which you learn if I kept last January's New Year resolutions.

You may recall, or perhaps you don't, that I filed Proposition 20, my campaign to lose 20 pounds by eating only when hungry. I pledged to watch more television. And I promised not to run for office.

The last one was easy. But I don't feel totally good about this.

Maybe the time has come for a lot of us to set aside our distaste for the act of politics and create some competition out there. I can assure you, Beacon Hill would look like a very different place if every legislator had an opponent in either the primary or general elections this fall.

No matter our party or political philosophy, we could informally form the Unparty. Campaign slogan: "No incumbent goes unchallenged." Primary issue: The need for representative democracy.

First campaign speech: "If elected, I will either vote my conscience, and here is what I believe; or I will vote the way the majority of my constituents want me to vote. But I will be one individual, autonomous legislator, not part of the leadership, membership, chairmanship, salesmanship, or partisan bullship. My vote will belong to my district and my soul will belong to myself, not to anyone named Tom. If this means I don't get bonus pay, a nice office, or even goodies for my district, so be it. Government is not a swap meet. Thank you."

Please, let's not hide in the false skin of humility. There are no real requirements for the job, a fact that is obvious to anyone who has spent any amount of time watching the Legislature in inaction. It would be nice if you are intelligent, hard-working and possessed of a certain amount of common sense. But you can be dumb, lazy and silly and still make an incumbent run scared.

To run for state senate, all you need is to have lived in the state for five years, in the district when elected, and to collect 300 signatures. To run for state rep, you must have lived in the district for one year; and you can get the required 150 signatures in a weekend. File twice the required number -- in case of challenge -- with your city or town clerk by April 30.

I hereby resolve to encourage you to run.

OK, I'll think about it myself, if only to set an example. After all, I kept that second resolution -- to watch more television -- so I kind of got it out of my system. As long as there are no candidate forums conflicting with "Roswell," "24," "The Education of Max Bickford," "Judging Amy" and later this year, "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," I can fit a campaign into my life.

Yes, I'm still watching "The West Wing," if just to see President Bartlett defeated by anybody. He lied to the American people, got his staff in very expensive trouble with grand juries to determine what they knew and when they knew it, and still thinks he's God's gift to the nation. But if fiction follows reality, he'll win another term and when it's over, he'll continue to hang around like former President Clinton.

Meanwhile, my favorite, his aide, Charlie, will probably go to jail.

I hate politics, real or imagined. But that's no reason not to run, is it?

As for my first 2001 resolution, yes I lost 20 pounds. Yes, it took major surgery -- which also accounts for the additional TV viewing.

So be careful what you wish for when you make those New Year resolutions. Next year, we could all be hanging out together on Beacon Hill!

Maybe I'll stick to just one political resolution that I was also able to keep in the past: To stay out of Republican primaries. Only my best friend knows for sure who I supported, listed here in alphabetic order: Pierce or Weld (GOP candidates for governor in 1990), Cellucci or Torkildsen (lieutenant governor, 1990), Cellucci or Malone (governor, 1998).

So I hereby resolve that no one else will know if I personally prefer, in alphabetic order, Guerriero or Rappaport in the race for lieutenant governor this year. I'm assuming they will both take the "no new taxes" pledge taken by all the above candidates and by Governor Swift.

As an independent voter, I often vote in the Democratic primary for the least awful candidate, just in case the voters decide to wreck the commonwealth's economy again with one-party rule. It will take me a few months to decide which of many deserving candidates is the worst, and I'll share that opinion before voting.

I hereby resolve to support competition, representative democracy, and "no new taxes" in 2002. And read more books. And lose another 10 pounds with willpower alone.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News and the Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in other newspapers.

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