and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


Barbara's Column
April 2002 #1

Stormy seas forecast as Republicans, Libertarians
meet to launch statewide campaigns

by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Thursday, April 04, 2002

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 dream.

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 the office.

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 2 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 2. 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 minority-party presence.

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.

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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