Saturday January 5, 2013

GREAT BARRINGTON

Hey, look, it's this simple: In a potential race against Scott Brown, the polls show that Ed Markey is way behind.

A Scott Brown win would give the Republicans yet another vote in the U.S. Senate. No matter how loudly Brown cries or insists that he is not like those other bad Republicans, in the end, he is. He organizes with them, he'll vote for Mitch McConnell for leader and when the vote comes up on close political stuff, he'll be with the Republicans.

So why do Republicans win in a state as blue as Massachusetts? They win because the voters get sick and tired of being taken for granted by the political class. Frankly, they don't even want to elect people from that class. That's why we've seen a whole string of Republican governors in the Bay State and why, years ago, Ed Brooke was elected senator. When it comes to high political office, Massachusetts is a competitive state despite the fact that the registration is overwhelmingly blue.

Massachusetts people are among the most educated, bright and thoughtful in this country. They see Deval Patrick and know he's the real thing. They go for competence and brains.

This time there will be no Barack Obama at the head of the ticket to bring out the Democratic vote. If Ed Markey isn't going to win, who can? What Massachusetts needs now is a hero -- someone who every working man and woman can relate to; someone from outside of the political class.

I believe that James Taylor is that person.

JT, who famously followed that road "from Stockbridge to Boston," is as much of a hero to the people of the Bay State as General Henry Knox was.

Not only is he one of the most celebrated singers in the world who can fill any stadium, but he is also a brilliant thinker and, most of all, a person who can relate to the problems we all face in life. He has gone head to head with his own personal demons and stands as a symbol for each of us who struggles with our own issues. He is us and he will win overwhelmingly.

What kind of a Democrat is he? Every insider knows what the Democratic Party owes Taylor. Over the years, he has worked tirelessly for Democratic candidates, raising tens of millions of dollars for the effort. We all know how generous he has been in raising funds for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His devotion to the Red Sox organization is well known.

He is man of integrity and great principles. He is not one of the denizens of the Congress, hanging around with millionaires and billionaires who will finance his campaigns. Personally, I can tell you how hard he has worked on behalf of public radio, something I will remember to my last breath.

He is committed to his wife, Kim, and their love story is genuine and beautiful. Their twins, Rufus and Henry, are already remarkable young men. Last year when Taylor appeared for free in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," he brought the wonderful Berkshire Theatre Group to the attention of the world.

I have talked politics with Kim and James many times. They are anything but the same old, same old. I tell you, Taylor could win. If I was Deval Patrick, I would nominate him as a temporary replacement for Brown, but this time, I would not suggest that he couldn't run for a full-time seat. We would be damned lucky to have him. Would he give up his wonderful career to do it? I almost hope not.

If the Democratic establishment keeps up its lemming-like rush to the cliff and nominates Markey, I hope that it turns out I'm wrong. I'd hate to have to say, "I told you so."

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.