LETTER: I Vote The Party, Not The Man

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I Vote the Party, Not the Man

It's an interesting time to be involved in politics in Wakefield.

Two men with local roots - and strong, loyal, local support - are candidates for seats in the U.S. House and Senate. One could tip the balance of party control in the U.S. Senate.

Meantime our former Governor is vying for the most powerful public office in the land. His national campaign headquarters in Boston is just a short T ride away.

All three candidates - Richard Tisei, Scott Brown, and Mitt Romney - have established reputations as thoughtful moderates, willing to cross party lines to accomplish legislative goals. Tisei and Brown are eminently likable fellows - the type I'd probably seek out at a family cookout or cocktail party as the kind of guy I could talk to about the Patriots, Springsteen, or the joys of home ownership.

So many of my Wakefield friends seem puzzled when they ask me: Why don't you support any of them?

My answer is simple: They are Republicans, and I am a Democrat.

I realize it's not particularly popular to say that these days, our Commonwealth's reputation as the bluest of states notwithstanding.

The fact is party politics is a dying craft. Fewer and fewer Americans identify as Democrat or Republican. Younger generations are far more likely to register as unenrolled than mine, just as my generation is more independent than that of my father’s. No wonder. As a friend reminded me recently, partisanship has become synonymous with gridlock.

But parties are a fact of political life, whether we like them or not. The great American historian Gary Wills put it well in a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, when he chastised a liberal friend for abandoning support for the President:

"Obama was never a prince. None of them are," he wrote. "The mistake behind all this is a misguided high-mindedness that boasts, 'I vote for the man, not the party.' This momentarily lifts the hot-air balloon of self-esteem by divorcing the speaker from political taintedness and compromise. But the man being voted for, no matter what he says, dances with the party that brought him, dependent on its support, resources, and clientele. That is why one should always vote on the party, instead of the candidate. The party has some continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised. What you are really voting for is the party’s constituency."

This, I believe, is the hard truth behind all democratic elections. It's a tough one for those of us who value our independence to swallow.

Parties are vehicles for putting ideas into action. And ideas that drive public policy matter a great deal to millions of people at the margins of society - the poor, the sick, the unemployed. They matter to our soldiers and our veterans, to women, to our seniors, and to our schoolchildren.

And I believe that for every one of those groups, Democratic ideas are better than Republican ones. By contrast, when I read the GOP platform, I don't see myself, my community, or my values reflected there.

So might the election of a Richard Tisei, Scott Brown, or Mitt Romney temper the current Republican extremism and move the GOP to the center? Sure.

But I'm not taking that chance.

Fred Rich LaRiccia

Member, Wakefield Democratic Town Committee


Jessie Paiva September 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Oh my, voting for the party rather than the politician...well, in the republic of the United States party lines have blurred over the years. Each generation has become progressively neutral, but so have the candidates. It is now a country of Democrins and Republicrats, as one singer states. The problem with voting for a party's ideals is that the politicians set out to represent and enact those ideals may be anywhere on the spectrum from liberal to conservative. So would you vote for an ultra-conservative Democrat versus an ultra-liberal Republican? Don't get me wrong, you are entitled to your opinion and no one can force someone to vote for a candidate if they choose not to. However, I feel you may be closing yourself off to a candidate that might better represent your wishes just because they subscribe to a different party. Now, to clarify, I identify with Democratic ideals much more than Republican ones. I personally can't understand what one drive a person to think that general Republic policy is a healthy choice for our country. However, I much prefer the Green-Rainbow ideals to that of Democratic because I care about people and would like the country to heal and be happy. Realistically, I don't see a Green-Rainbow taking the presidency because outside of our "blue state" lies a whole bunch of regression. No matter how you slice it, no one is perfect and can represent everything you want. We need politicians willing to step up and work rather than take vacations.
Jim Creamer September 18, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Is there a Republican Town Committee ?
Dave Gray September 18, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Once again I'm reduced to having no choice but the lesser of two evils. I'd vote for any decent candidate over Obama, but I cannot in good conscience vote for Romney, who quite honestly scares the heck out of me. I'm distressed by Tisei's campaign, and I admit that stuff about the house on Main Street bothers me, and the Tierney off shore gambling thing also bothers me. There's something smarmy about Brown, and Granny Warren seems left of the foul pole. These are the choices, and it looks to me like we are in real trouble if this is the best we can do.
William Laforme September 18, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Great comments everybody. Each and every election day, I find myself recalling the great quote by Russell Crowe in "Master and Commander." - "Do you not know that in the service, a man must choose between the lesser of two weevils?"
Brandon Chapman September 18, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Yes there is


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