and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


Barbara's Column
February 2002 #1

Democrats may soon find it's the voters
who are 'bane' of their existence

by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Friday, February 01, 2002

I the bane.

You've heard of Lyndon Baines Johnson? I'm Barbara Bane Anderson.

The Great Bane. To bane, or not to bane, that is the question.

Last Sunday I got a make-my-day e-mail from a Republican friend.

"Hi Barbara", it read. "This morning I went to a political breakfast here in North Andover, where many of the Democratic candidates for state and county offices spoke.

"One of the candidates who addressed us was John Slattery, running for Lt. Governor. He was, of course, promoting a suspension of the tax rollback because the state needs the money for more important things. He mentioned that he had some words of disagreement with you in the Salem News.

"Then he said, 'Barbara Anderson is the bane of the Democratic Party.'

"I wasn't exactly sure what Slattery meant with the word 'bane', so I looked up the definitions in my trusty dictionary. They are: '1. That which causes death or destroys life; 2. A deadly poison; 3. A thing that ruins or spoils; 4. Ruin, destruction, death.'

"As far as I am concerned, any of those definitions would be fine. However, I was hoping for No. 1 in that you are powerful enough to destroy the Democratic Party here in Mass. What a pleasant thought!"

Ah, my Republican friend, it's all I can do to hold onto the income tax rollback, never mind destroy a party!

Concerning that subject, I did say something in my last column here about Slattery "planning to run for lieutenant governor on a platform that insists the voters didn't know what they were doing on ballot questions." But I also praised another local Democratic rep for his vote to preserve the rollback.

Basically, I'm non-partisan: If you care about working-people taxpayers, you're OK with me.

I was raised in a Democratic family and town in blue-collar Pennsylvania. Back home, Democrats were generally thought to be for working people. Then I moved to Massachusetts, and over the years couldn't help noticing that up here, they talk a lot about working people but most of them seem to want to cut our pay by raising our taxes.

Republicans seem to care more about my paycheck. But the roots run deep, so I compromise by being a registered Independent, and vote in whatever primary interests me. This year I will vote in the Democratic primary against John Slattery and whichever candidate for governor wants to cut my pay the most. So far Tom Birmingham and Robert Reich head the list.

We Independents get this flexibility, but we don't get to go to party caucuses. I suspect most real Democrats like those in my family don't go either, or if they do, they don't get picked, because the activists at the convention are usually clamoring to raise my taxes and limit my freedoms. Harry Truman couldn't get 15 percent at a Massachusetts Democratic Party convention this year.

In 1978, Massachusetts voters chose a conservative Democrat, Edward J. King, for governor. Then the liberals took over the party and it was downhill for working people until Bill Weld was elected.

How could a wealthy Yankee Republican care more about us than the Democrats? He did, and for the next 12 years he and his two Republican successors didn't try to cut our pay.

Democrats like John Slattery, Tom Birmingham, and Tom Finneran insist that the voters were wrong in forcing Beacon Hill Democrats to keep the promise that the 1989 income tax hike would be temporary. Finneran doesn't like the voters' position on Clean Elections either.

The Supreme Judicial Court, which usually rules against initiative petitions, just ruled on the side of Clean Elections proponents, telling the Legislature to repeal it or fund it. The SJC is also, however, looking for more funding itself from the Legislature, and may have been just sending a message about how difficult it is to have separation of powers when one power funds the other. If so, when it comes time for a remedy, Clean Elections voters may soon be getting their clocks cleaned instead.

If enough Democratic legislators resist this snarky attitude toward the voters, their party may not need a bane. But if they choose instead to override the governor's veto of two ballot question repeals, then the voters themselves should become the bane of the Democratic Party come November 2002.

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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