They say that if you want the perfect congressman,
with whom you agree on everything, you probably have to run yourself.
I actually did almost run myself once, back in 1978, when it looked as
if no one else would and I thought that was a shame. I was a Republican
at the time and wrote to Gordon Nelson, chairman of the state party,
offering my services if he would give me some money. I was very naive.
Fortunately, someone else came forward so I went to work at Citizens for
Limited Taxation instead. I was recommended for the job by Gordon, who
recognized that I would not be a good candidate but thought I might make
a tolerable political activist. I never regretted that choice for a
I still needed a congressman, though. I worked as a volunteer in the
1970s for Bill Bronson, who was much more conservative than I, but
agreed with me on my primary issue - opposition to the military draft. I
had recently moved to Massachusetts, from where I wanted to do my part
to save the world. The draft that had been so abused during the Vietnam
War had just been ended by President Nixon, one reason I liked
I wanted to make sure the draft never returned, but also wanted to make
sure America had a strong national defense, with a well-supported
volunteer military. And of course I was interested in limited taxation
and government - to which my incumbent congressman, Michael Harrington,
did not relate.
Bill Bronson was too socially conservative for the district and didn't
win. I got an e-mail from him last summer; he is living in Florida with
his third wife, "an Austrian soprano" and is enrolled in Episcopal
Divinity School. We are planning to get together to discuss our
religious differences someday soon.
I did eventually have a congressman I liked, Peter Torkildsen, who had
been a leading taxpayer ally when he represented Danvers in the state
Legislature. He lost narrowly in the Clinton sweep year of 1996 to John
Tierney who's held the post ever since.
Now I think it's my turn to have a congressman who's on my side of the
Rick Barton is as close to political compatibility as I could hope. I'm
comfortable with his positions on taxes, the economy, immigration,
health care, and national defense. They can all be found clearly
outlined on his Web site.
I admit I haven't paid close attention to what Tierney has been doing in
Congress. I get his constituent newsletters, but they are kind of
general, like Deval Patrick on the issues. One can look up his votes,
but I know some of the bills are more complicated than their titles
state. As an independent, I can't just support a party's positions
across the board.
I attended a forum held by Tierney on Social Security and didn't like
his refusal to address the fact that the status quo will take the system
into bankruptcy not too far into the future. I'd like to attend a debate
between Tierney and Barton so I could hear a real discussion on this and
the other important issues. But so far Tierney has agreed to just two
joint appearances, one a non-debate forum at Brooksby Village, and one a
debate in Bedford on the far outskirts of the district.
When our representative insists that he doesn't have time for democracy
here in his district, when Congress isn't even in session, it's
annoying. So is the arrogance of incumbency that assumes its re-election
With the war on terror and Iraq, it is more important than ever to make
sure we send the right person to Congress.
Bronson tells me that he has "left George and his war," and I can
understand that. But at least our country isn't drafting young men into
Barton agrees with me that we are better off with a professional
volunteer military. I want a congressman who, instead of wanting to
impeach the president in the middle of the war on terror as Tierney
does, would focus on giving that volunteer military the support due
those who protect us and our way of life.
Barton was a Navy pilot, recently retired from Delta. As a former Navy
wife, I love the volunteer military and think that the pay, prestige,
benefits, equipment and medical care after combat should reflect our
country's admiration for the most important career a young American can
choose. The war on terror will not be over soon; the war against evil
has been fought throughout history. Now that it has come to our own
shores, there will eventually be an argument that all young Americans
I agree with the concept, but am certain that all young Americans can
serve in their own way, by doing whatever job they choose as well as
they can. That's why I especially like Rick Barton's campaign slogan:
Principle, Integrity and Service. We need leadership that will encourage
these qualities in every arena since they do not seem to be found as
much these days as they once were.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown
Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence [RI] Journal and