and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
October #4

In the market for a new congressman
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, October 20, 2006

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 minute!

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 Republicans.

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 issues again.

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 is assured.

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 it.

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 should serve.

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 other newspapers.