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Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Rollicking 50th Reunion
By Chip Faulkner, Communications Director

Chip Faulkner's CLT Commentary

They thought it would add spice to my HC Class of 1967’s 50th college reunion. That is, a forum on politics, to be scheduled at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester during the second weekend in June.

So my classmates went ahead and put together a political seminar. It featured my ‘67 classmate, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and yours truly to discuss the national political scene — each of us coming from a different political perspective. At first I thought it would entail a discussion group in a classroom with a couple of dozen classmates. As it turned out, the reunion committee highly publicized this “encounter” and described it vividly in the below description that appeared in the reunion schedule of events:

9:30 a.m. | Class of 1967 Session:
“Whither the Republic in the Age of Trump”
Brooks Concert Hall

Chris Matthews, widely respected Washington insider, popular author and historian and, pertinently for our panel, thoughtful observer and rapid-fire commentator with a blue liberal drift.
Chip Faulkner, Director of Communications of Citizens for Limited Taxation, tax expert, successful political activist and again pertinently, equally thoughtful observer and rapid-fire advocate with a flinty red conservative core.

Walking into the Brooks Concert Hall, I was astonished to see that the place was packed. The Hall was small as concert halls go, but including standing room the crowd numbered at least 300. I started off with a brief opening statement that included an oft-repeated famous (or infamous) line by Chris Matthews when he’d heard that Obama had been elected on election night in 2008. I said “I’m pleased to be here and especially to share the stage with Chris Matthews. In fact, as I speak, a thrill is going up and down my leg.”

MSNBC host and Holy Cross alumnus
Chris Matthews

Of course I couldn’t resist pointing out that Chris had been a member of the Conservative Club while attending Holy Cross. He explained his conversion by his admiration for JFK and others during the 60s. He did bring up the late Daniel Moynihan, who had served as the US Senator from New York. I volunteered that I had been an admirer of Moynihan myself, he being one of the few Democrats who would have gotten my vote. In addition to his working class background and common sense approach to politics he had a sardonic sense of humor. When asked once where in his long career he had experienced the most vicious politics, Sen. Moynihan replied: “No question, the Harvard faculty.” When asked why, he said, “Because the stakes were so small.”

There was quite a bit of discussion about The Donald and Hillary. I told the audience that my first inkling that Trump had a shot at winning came last summer. I frequent a couple of sports pubs in the Attleboro area and was friendly with some of the regulars. I noticed that the white males I had discussions with backed Trump. Not some or many of them, but all of them. They made no bones about it and were quite vocal in their support. I remember thinking: “This is blue state Massachusetts. What is it like in the rest of the country!”

When I told this story, I noticed that Chris did not disagree, but rather observed that this was one of the problems the Democrats had. However, the dilemma facing the Democrats goes far beyond my white male story.

Republicans now have control of 25 states with a Republican governor, house and senate, while the Democrats have six. You can now drive from Key West Florida to the northern tip of Idaho and never leave a Republican controlled state. The number of state legislators across the country that now carry the Republican label is the most since at least 1928. What do the Democrats have to counter them?

Their leadership consists on Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. I turned to the audience and quipped: The average age of these four is deceased! This being one of my better lines, it seemed to delight the crowd.

We also dived into the topic of immigration — offering different views naturally. I cited a few of my experiences on four different trips I’ve taken along U.S. border with Mexico. I traveled with staff from the Center for Immigration Studies talking to border officials, bureaucrats, and individuals who had homes/ranches close to the border. To repeat what one border agent in Yuma, Arizona told us: “Walls make a difference; before they were put up, hundreds would pass over at night. Now just a few make it.”

This session was scheduled to last an hour, but was extended for another half an hour to accommodate several more questions from the audience. Chris Matthews and I were never at each other’s throat. It only got testy a couple of times. All in all, this forum was a pleasant experience.

One woman came up to me after the meeting and said she could have listened to the two of us for hours. I told her to be careful what you wish for.

Chip Faulkner
Communications Director


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