To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In the end, it was no contest. It wasn't even close. We now have the numbers, and "The Machine" trounced "The Folks" in Great Barrington's election by almost two to one. "Old Great Barrington" was rolled by "New Great Barrington." A "new community" has wrestled political control of the town from the "old community" that used to run it.
The engine of this takeover is the local Democrat Town Committee, which has been re-energized by an influx of very liberal activists who have moved into the town in the past number of years. Although Great Barrington has been majority Democrat for decades, they were socially moderate and fiscally prudent for the most part. The newer arrivals are far more aggressively liberal, activist, articulate, organized, interconnected, and above all, they vote! They are a formidable machine.
The numbers tell the story. There are 4,200 registered voters in Great Barrington. Only 1,400 of them actually turned up at the polls on Election Day -- a paltry 32 percent. Out of that 1,400, approximately 900 voted for the Democrat candidates and 450 for Republicans, or a 2-to-1 ratio. The vast majority of those who register as un-enrolled reliably vote Democrat, so for voting purposes they can mostly be considered to be Democrats. This is the usual pattern.
However, something shocking had occurred in last November's special election regarding the Monument Mountain Regional High School $56 million renovation proposal. The usual 2 to 1 voting ratio was reversed and funding for the project was defeated! Did this mean that the town was ready to reverse course on the seemingly unstoppable increases in taxes and spending every year?
The Republican Town Com-
mittee thought so, and searched frantically for someone to run against incumbent Andrew Blechman, who was advocating publicly for "more taxes." We could find literally no one willing to run out of several possible local well-known people. Then I suggested to the committee a bold stroke, someone new and different, young, well-spoken, born and raised in Great Barrington -- my son, John, who had recently returned to live here to eventually take over our farm. He agreed to give it a try.
Once his candidacy was announced, the "Democratic Machine" recognized the threat and pounced. Faced with the real possibility that this time "The Folks" were sufficiently aroused and had had enough of the out-of-control spending that would force them to move out of their town, they found a new candidate to replace Blechman, and mimicked the same fiscally conservative platform as John. Then came the vilification in the press, some anonymous, but mostly from the prominent liberal columnists, all part of the their attack machine. Also, they write many more letters to the editors.
But finally and most importantly, these "New Democrats" are much more motivated to get themselves and other like-minded people to the polls to vote. Those Democrats who had strayed to the "no" vote in last November's special election, quickly returned to the fold when they were reminded that John Beebe was a Republican, as well as the other qualified candidates that we fielded. Appar-
ently, many Democrats even if they have had enough, will simply never vote for a Republican.
Shockingly, all we needed was about 400 more out of the pool of 2,800 registered voters who didn't vote in order to "take back the town." They never showed up. Thus, once again "the folks" have ceded political control of the town to "the machine" -- in absentia. They had their chance to reverse course, but now they can expect more of the same for the foreseeable future.
GEORGE T. BEEBE