More and more Americans say they’re fed up with national politics. And it’s hard to blame them, with partisan-rooted gridlock the order of the day, and “sequestration” budget cuts hitting private sector companies while public-sector employees like those at NOAA sail along with nary a missed day or paycheck?
Indeed, many folks are so fed up they no longer bother to vote, and that may well prove the case again in next Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts to choose a successor to U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry. All the signs point to low voter turnout. And even beyond the usual political alienation, it’s summer, schools are out and the Bruins have all of New England fixated on their run for a second Stanley Cup in three years.
But it would be a mistake to sit this election out. That’s because Massachusetts voters have an opportunity to send a message that will be heard in the halls of Congress and around the country by choosing as their senator someone who is not part of the Washington establishment and who will challenge its partisan, dysfunctional culture.
That someone is Republican Gabriel Gomez, the private-sector businessman who is taking on Ed Markey, a career politician who has spent 37 years in Congress with little to show for it except a record of lockstep party line voting. On the surface, he’s from Malden, but Washington is his real home; it’s where his heart is, and where much of his support is coming from.
In those 37 years, Markey has mastered the political spin game. He’s convinced some voters and backers, for instance, that he supports Gloucester’s and Massachusetts’ fishermen, when in fact he’s the only seacoast lawmaker in the state delegation to come out against adding more and badly needed flexibility to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and he’s an ardent supporter of President Obama’s so-called “ocean zoning” plan that would inevitably bring new fishery closures. To be fair, he has supported providing emergency aid to the fishing industry — he would, in other words, throw a lot more money at the problem, but without the true reforms fishermen need.