and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
December #2

Even in Massachusetts, hope springs eternal
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, December 14, 2006

The three great virtues, listed in the New Testament, are "faith, hope and charity." In my Catholic youth, I was taught that "the greatest of these is charity."

No one said it, but I'm beginning to suspect that "the least of these is hope."

Nevertheless, I want to be wholly virtuous, so here goes:

  I hope that there will be peace on Earth.

Just because there hasn't been peace since life began is no reason not to hope that it will happen soon!

  I hope that our nation, unlike the Roman Empire, survives -- despite media bread and circuses, the national debt and trade deficit, political correctness, a young population unaware of our history and Constitution, open borders, dysfunctional homeland security, and an Islamic jihad aimed right at us.

  I hope that our commonwealth survives, despite the sense that our ship of state has been sinking for a while. The rats are thriving, especially in Boston, but productive citizens are escaping in droves.

Deval Patrick sold hope and the majority of voters bought it without demanding much in the way of details. So, now are we to hope that we get an invitation to some of the more exclusive events that are part of his $1.5-million inaugural celebration? Would that satisfy the hope urge?

Can the rest of us hope his ego doesn't eventually insist on human sacrifice and, like Caligula, a catered wedding for his horse?

  I hope that Proposition 2 survives so that uncontrolled property taxes don't take too much of our Social Security checks as we age. Of course I also hope that Social Security and other pension plans survive the refusal of politicians to face their deficits and unfunded liabilities.

  I hope we individuals survive the coming Medicare, Medicaid and general health-care crises as the population ages.

  I hope the planet survives overpopulation, asteroids, nuclear weapons, shifting magnetic poles and, of course, global warming.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking recently said, "I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years." Well ... well ... I hope he's wrong!

There, I've done my part about all of the above. I hoped with all my heart. You're welcome.

Hope has often been a political ploy. You can track its popularity in my political lifetime: Ronald Reagan made us all feel good about America and made us hope for the fall of communism. Of course he backed this up with action, and this hope was realized.

George H.W. Bush had no time for "the vision thing," of which hope is a part, so the voters rejected him in favor of Bill Clinton, who, serendipitously, was from "a little town called Hope." He, and then George W. Bush, had a lot of us hoping that there could be, one way or another, after thousands of years, peace in the Middle East. This doesn't seem to be working out.

Here is my theory about hope: It's a kind of knee-jerk response to disgust. The Democrats just took over Congress because almost everyone was disgusted with the Republicans and hoped, for no reason based on the country's past history, that the Democrats will be better.

Here in Massachusetts, after Michael Dukakis, whose touted "Miracle" turned out to be "Illusion," voters hoped for something different and we can all agree, Bill Weld was different. But like Reagan, he ran on a clearly articulated agenda. Now voters get excited about Deval Patrick and Barak Obama just because they use the word "hope" a lot.

It helps that we have no history for them. We can look at the brand-new guy and see whatever we hope to see.

Liberals saw someone in Patrick who would restore old programs and create new ones. Other voters saw "change." None of them addressed the real problem -- the existing Legislature -- by changing faces there, however. I predict that in two years all the incumbents, secure in their seats anyhow, will copy the Patrick model and talk about nothing but hope during the election.

They are already using the Patrick technique of saying something nice about an opponent before attacking. We'll be hearing "you're better than that" until we want to ... scream?

No, we've become too passive to scream. We'll hear it and we'll "hope" they stop saying it.

Having been around a while, I see patterns in most politics. Iraq is becoming like Vietnam, where we didn't fight to win, and, consequently, lost.

In Massachusetts, voters elected a reformer in Mike Dukakis, in 1974. He soon disappointed his liberal base by cutting services, then angered everyone else by breaking his pledge not to raise taxes.

I already hear liberals expressing their disappointment in Patrick's first priority -- his wildly expensive inauguration -- as the state begins to face certain economic realities. Don't ask me what he'll do about them: His transition team isn't allowed to talk to the press. Just kiss "openness" good-bye and hope for the best.

Well, fortunately, I don't have to do anything about all this: I hope, therefore I am, and that's enough. Now I can relax and enjoy the holidays. Hope you can do the same.

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.