Sunday October 7, 2012

RICHMOND

Massachusetts is a true blue, liberal state that has always been in the forefront when it comes to new ideas and innovations for its mostly Democratic citizens. Democrats make up 35.9 percent of voters while Republicans have something like 11 percent. Right here in Berkshire County, which has 87,059 registered voters, 37.2 percent are Democrats while 9.8 percent are Republicans. So, something like 52 percent are unenrolled voters. Which is why our state legislature is almost unanimously Democratic in everything they do. However, the Democratic Legislature has one drawback. Three of the recent presidents of the Senate were indicted and convicted of malfeasance. And to add insult to injury, it was three in a row.

Which is why since the year 1914, there have been 14 Republican governors and only 12 Democratic. Wary of the Legislature and its inability to stay on the straight and narrow, the public has counted on Republican governors to moderate the antics of the overly-entrenched Democrats. They have found it impossible to do so because of the huge difference in numbers, but they have tried, some of them with hard work, such as Leverett Saltonstall, and some with humor, such as Bill Weld.

Which brings us to our present dilemma, the race between Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Brown surprised the civilized world a little more than two years ago when he defeated Attorney General Martha Coakley to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy for the remainder of his term.

Coakley did little more than call in her candidacy and Brown overtook and defeated her. This made him the first Massachusetts Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate since Edward Brooke in 1972.

Brown is definitely a handsome man, having made part of his living as a youth from modeling, but he had experience as a practicing attorney as well as a town selectman and assessor. He is also a full colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard and has a great deal of experience in human relations since both his parents have been divorced three times since they first split when Brown was one year old.

He earned his political knowhow by serving as both a state representative and then as a state senator, basing most of his initiative as an advocate for veterans. Brown described himself as an "independent thinker" when he decided in his 50th year to go for the big one. He brilliantly decided to run as Everyman, toured in his pickup truck wearing a barn jacket (some say it was a $500 barn jacket), overtook and then overwhelmed Coakley.

He set himself up as an "independent" Republican and carefully voted on safe issues. However, he voted with Republicans 80 per cent the time (he claimed 50 percent in the Oct. 2 debate) but still became "the most popular officeholder in Massachusetts." He calls himself "socially moderate and fiscally conservative" and identifies himself as a "Reagan Republican."

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, was called on by President Barack Obama to develop the U.S. Consumer Financial Bureau. She did such a good job that the Republicans vowed they would never allow her to head it and put on so much pressure that Obama backed down on the plan. This caused Warren, no shrinking violet, to challenge Brown for his Senate seat in June of this year.

Warren's record as a law professor, teacher and writer has given her a high public profile but mostly as a defender and proponent of the middle class and defender of those who have no other spokesman to represent them. She is also a proponent of the rich paying higher taxes because they use the rest of the nation to build their riches.

Having little else to go on, Brown has been attacking Warren for claiming American Indian blood that is basically undocumented. He is also trying to cast her as a former advocate for big business and at the same time for big government. This big lie is based on two cases she was part of ages ago.

And why are all the big corporations donating exclusively to Brown? And why has Karl Rove turned his organization to "robocalls" against Warren? It's all because she has chosen to pick the people of this country against the mega-corporations that now run it.

This race, however, is important for another reason, probably the most important one of all. A Brown win could give the Republicans a majority in the Senate just as they have in the House. If that happens, the average citizen with his average problems will have one more implacable enemy at his throat.

The Massachusetts tradition must not only live on but also go forward.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle contributor.