Political theorist Thomas Frank published a savage indictment of his home state in What's the Matter with Kansas? In his research, he defines and defies the blue-collar Midwestern state for voting against their "political and social interests" by supporting conservative candidates. Kansas now has a supermajority of conservative Republicans, as they havepurged the moderates from their midst. Yet contrary to Frank's characterization, the Kansas legislature has extended to job-creating corporations a tax-haven -- such is the result of lower tax rates .
Other Red states got redder after the 2012 election, and they are poised to enact lower taxes, cut spending, and encourage local control in education, all of which will benefit everyone. Wisconsin's reform of collective bargaining rights saved municipalities millions of dollars without raising taxes or laying off workers. Ruby red North Dakota laid the ground-work of a booming job market with the lowest unemployment and the distinction of best-run state.
The blue states got bluer, as well. California now has a Democratic supermajority which is already plotting more tax increases. An average of 5 businesses per week leave the state , taking in their wake jobs, investment, and tax revenue. In Massachusetts, businesses are also fleeing the state because of pick-and-choose policies which pick on businesses instead of picking them up with lower taxes and fewer regulations. Democratic policies are not working.
In the last election, Republican Scott Brown of Wrentham was one of the most bipartisan US Senators in Washington, a record of character and compromise that we need now more than ever. He voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but he also voted against ObamaCare, which would have laid a more expensive medical insurance mandate on the state along with RomneyCare. Scott Brown rallied 52% of the vote in 2010, a sharp repudiation to an agenda of tax-and-spend statism that Massachusetts' residents resisted. Yet he lost reelection to an academic with a dubious relationship with the truth, a neophyte to the political realm with no prior legislative experience.
Richard Tisei , an openly gay, pro-choice, live-and-let-live Republican, ran for the 6th Congressional District against eight-term John Tierney , whose wife was implicated in tax fraud and now serves time. Congressman Tierney certainly did not sever ties very cleanly with his wife's felonious past. Racked with corruption and and stained with incumbency, Tierney still managed to win another term.
The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby reported shortly after the "light-shellacking" of the GOP nationally that Republicans actually lost ground in the Mass. state legislature. The grim appraisals approached despair. The Red Mass Group declared "As we are no longer viable statewide, it is clear that the party is dead." The blunt observation of Michael Graham , another Mass. GOP operative deserves greater attention:
"If you're a Republican, you can have the cure for cancer in one hand, a balanced budget in the other, and free tuition in your back pocket, and they'd still vote against you."
What's the matter with Republicans, then? Jacoby suggested that Republicans must focus on local governance and sound, consistent fiscal policies. One statehouse Republican, the young Ryan Fattman of Sutton, supports local control, less spending, and lower taxes. His grassroots approach may better serve the Mass GOP, a move which netted him the 18th state representative district by large margins in the last election. Instead of being "not Democratic", Republicans can adopt Fattman's local-outreach libertarian approach to bring back the businesses. Fattman has a record of getting his name out and working with individuals, just what a positive party image should provide.
Republicans can shake-up their outreach. Now one must ask (with all due respect, residents of the Bay State, borrowing Thomas Frank's phraseology):
What's the matter with Massachusetts?
The stronger the Democratic constituency in a state, the less hospitable for business, for commerce, for liberty the state becomes. Massachusetts continues to lose house seats, businesses, and clout in Washington. Despite the ingrained tradition of liberalism in the Massachusetts State House, it seems clear that one-party dominance has done more damage than good.
Why did a slim majority of voters in the 6th Congressional district support an incumbent of dubious character over a gay Republican or in the US Senate race an unseasoned academic over a military veteran? I do not ask this question out of offense, but to engage and expand the GOP brand, which can provide pro-growth, live-free policies.
To anyone who is reading, please post the issues that more concern you, and perhaps GOP operatives in the Bay State can spend more time amassing and assessing the concerns of the voters and help bring back economic recovery and real political reform to Massachusetts.
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