It's the warm-up to Revolution 2010 on Nov. 2nd!

This independent voter will choose GOP ballot next Tuesday
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, September 9, 2010

The sun won't cross the equator on its way south until Sept. 22, but politically, the autumn of our discontent has arrived.

Next Tuesday's primary election will set the cast of the Nov. 2 drama, which I optimistically call Revolution 2010.

In Massachusetts we also call the date of each election Independents' Day, because those of us who are unenrolled are the largest voting group, and we keep the establishment off-balance. Even next week, unlike voters in some states, we are allowed to take a primary ballot for either party and help choose the candidates who will face each other in the general election.

Political analysts don't know which ballot we will take, never mind for whom we will vote when we get it. Pollsters may call, but we might not make up our minds until the last minute, so the call may not help them with their predictions.

I often take a Democratic ballot, sometimes because I am reluctant to choose between friends on the Republican ballot, sometimes because there is some Democrat running whom I really don't want. In the latter case, I vote for the Democrat that I like personally or agree with occasionally.

I once voted for Patricia McGovern for governor on a Democratic ballot because I didn't want to choose in the Republican primary between Paul Cellucci and Joe Malone. Cellucci had done a good job as a legislator in the House, then in the Senate; while Malone had been a friend since he worked for the late, great Ray Shamie.

Now is a fitting time to remember Shamie, who played a major role in the last two Massachusetts voter revolutions.

As an early supporter of Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT), he was a force behind the passage of Proposition 2 in 1980, the year of the national Reagan Revolution. He was chairman of the state Republican Party in 1990 when Bill Weld won the governorship and enough legislative incumbents were defeated to keep the rest in line for Weld's reform agenda.

We are overdue for the next revolution. As in 1980, there is a sitting president who doesn't seem to know what he is doing; and as in 1990, there is a state fiscal crisis brought on by years of legislative misbehavior. In those years, there were fewer independents, but there were many conservatives who called themselves Reagan Democrats and social libertarians who liked Bill Weld.

Come the general election, even party members cannot be depended upon to vote traditionally this year. Pollsters will be busy with Republicans and Democrats, as well as independents, trying to determine our inclination. They can't even be sure, this year, how the Libertarians, Greens and Rainbows will vote as they try to find someone they can halfway trust to share their own vision.

My own parents were Reagan Democrats. I was raised in a Pennsylvania factory town that turned more Democratic even than normal when John F. Kennedy ran, as he excited the local Catholic descendants of German and Irish immigrants. I was a senior in high school that year, and the nuns were all atwitter, except for Sister Evangelist, who was a strict conservative and supported Richard Nixon.

By then I had read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and decided I would join the party of Abraham Lincoln when I was old enough to vote. Also, I had a tendency even as a youth to be contrarian, rebelling against parental, school and general community choices. So during the mock election, I and maybe three other students joined Sister Evangelist and two secular history teachers in supporting Nixon which I imagine they later joined me in regretting. (Though I saw a bumper sticker last week that read, "I miss Dick Nixon.")

I did register Republican when I turned 21, in time to vote for Barry Goldwater, who was as much libertarian as conservative. But after moving to Massachusetts, my Irish Democrat roots made me uncomfortable with Yankee Republicans, at least until Weld came along to dispel that particular prejudice.

Sometime in the early '80s, after I went to work at Citizens for Limited Taxation, I ran into Democratic consultant Michael Goldman, who offered free advice: that I really should be an independent to run a nonpartisan taxpayer group. That felt so right! I do love the word "independent." And then I learned how one can use that status to her advantage in the primaries.

I never do the manipulative thing, though, by simply choosing the candidates who would be easier for my own favorites to beat. I always vote for the best person available on the ballot.

This year, I must take a Republican ballot because I want to vote for Bill Hudak in the primary that will determine that party's nomination for the 6th District seat in Congress.

Unfortunately, this means I can't vote for Governor's Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning as usual. I hope that those who take the Democratic ballot remember that she is one very reliable vote for intelligent decision-making when it comes to the appointment of judges and other matters that come before that body.

Another hard thing is that I have to choose between two friends again, Mary Z. Connaughton and Kamal Jain for state auditor. I'd tell you my choice but I have used up the allotted words for this column ...

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears 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.

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