An election season that calls for anger
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, October 16, 2014


So there I was on a beautiful October Sunday at the Marblehead Jewish Community Center, with a dramatic autumn view from the meeting room. The JCC had invited the three candidates for the 6th Congressional District; each was given an hour to speak and take questions.

This was my first chance to hear Christopher Stockwell whom despite the impression given by the headline above his photo in last week’s column I have not endorsed as “a voice of fiscal sanity.”

I was hoping to learn how he justifies his late arrival in the political arena and this vital race. His tardy presence can only confuse the important decision to be made on our representation in Congress; he may get votes just by being an independent in a year when many people are angry or disappointed with the two parties.

Some of what he advocates makes sense: e.g., his ABC system of setting priorities. But when he calls it “easy as ABC,” that’s where he disappears into his own delusion. If it were easy, someone would have done it by now because prioritization is a concept on which most normal people agree; but politicians find it less fun than just recklessly throwing money around.

He does want a balanced budget, but deplores divisive strategies. Both the real candidates also talk about their ability to reach across the aisle, to negotiate with opponents, to get things done.

Sorry, peace-lovers: Politics is tough, governing is tougher, and the reason we have separations in our state and federal constitutions is that they’re not supposed to “just all get along” when some of them are wrong and others must stop them before they take us too far down the road to disaster.

I was favorably impressed with Seth Moulton’s presentation on his Iraq experience and found myself agreeing with him on the foreign policy issues. But he lost credibility when, as he had earlier that day in a televised debate on “Keller at Large,” he insisted that the gay, pro-choice Richard Tisei is “one more vote to empower the far right that is controlled by tea party extremists” and Republicans who fight against women’s rights.

When questioned, he denied calling Tisei a tea party extremist, as if an audience can’t recognize a cynical attempt at guilt by association; besides, most Republicans in Congress, and tea party members in general, aren’t extremists. Despite what Moulton and other Democrats assert, Republicans didn’t shut down the government; they’re a minority in the government whose majority party and president refuse to be responsible and prefer to let the government pause until they get their way.

So the tea party has tried to control the national debt; the president manipulates public outcry, which somehow blames Republicans; Obama gets his way, and here we are, heading down that road to disaster.

Tisei has been trying to distance himself from the misrepresented tea party, but he can’t; the Democrats don’t have anything else but an attempt to tie all Republican candidates to some imaginary “war on women” by right-wing extremists, most of whom don’t get elected anywhere. Even if a moderate Republican is gay and pro-choice, he’s accused of “empowering the far right.”

Or, the Democrats do direct character assassination. In the case of Charlie Baker, they keep saying he is mean and angry. I’ve known him for decades, and he’s the last person on earth to whom I’d apply that description.

It doesn’t matter; they will say it even as Charlie is, in my opinion, ridiculously nice to Martha Coakley. In the WBZ debate, he went out of his way to praise her “work as a child advocate,” apparently thinking no one will remember the ongoing persecution of the innocent Amirault family during her tenure in the Middlesex County DA’s office.


  L-R, Gerry's wife Patti Amirault, Barbara, and Gerald Amirault
at his release celebration (April 30, 2004)

Well, I remember because the Amiraults became my friends during the battle to free them. Late in the last century, Massachusetts updated the Salem witch trials by joining in the national hysteria about supposed sex offenders in day care centers, with which ambitious prosecutors hoped to make reputations for themselves. In the case of the Amirault family — mother Violet, her daughter Cheryl and son Gerald who worked at Fells Acre Day Care in Malden with her — small children were coaxed into false accusations by social workers, and the innocent family was sent to prison. Violet and Cheryl were eventually released, soon before Violet died.

Coakley was forced by some indignant judges, attorneys and public opinion to release Gerald Amirault after almost 18 years in prison; but he is still wearing an ankle bracelet, while she refuses to acknowledge what any rational person should know, that once again Massachusetts had indulged in irrational hysteria. Just what we need, a governor who can’t admit she made a mistake.

After reading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” I often wondered what I’d do if I’d lived near Salem during the witch trials, if I’d have fought that horrible miscarriage of justice. Not sure if I’d have risked being hanged myself at that time, but there was no risk to my support for the Amiraults. I’m just hoping voters won’t reward one of their persecutors with the governorship of our commonwealth.

I’m a nonpartisan loather: Republican acting-Gov. Jane Swift refused to commute Gerald’s sentence, and the next day I called Mitt Romney in Utah and begged him to come back to run against her. When he did, she dropped out, never to return to politics.

Maybe I should be getting mellow with age. Instead, I’m politically angrier than I’ve ever been, at foolish delusion, at guilt by association, at lying, by injustice. This election is too important to indulge these things, as we try to fix the future that is being created for our grandchildren.

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.

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