( – promoted by Patrick)
Today’s Boston Globe (11-05-08) claims that Question #1 not only failed by a 2 to 1 margin, but that at press time not one community out of the state’s 351 cities & towns passed the ballot question. Carla Howell has tried to grasp at excuses for her team’s loss but the reality is that Question #1 proponents suffered a debacle of major proportions.
Does it mean Massachusetts citizens love higher taxes? The failure of five overrides in their respective communities suggests that’s not the case (& the loss/win ratio in the state for overrides thus far has been slanted in favor of its opponents). Are Bay State voters by nature content with the status quo? Well, the success of Questions #2 (marijuana decriminalization) & #3 (dog racing ban) suggests otherwise. The results of all three ballot questions, in fact, indicates to me that the majority of voters wanted dogs to be free from what many felt was a form of exploitation, less governmental harassment on what should be to most people a recreational activity, & a rejection of what they perceive to be a threat to the state’s sense of community. In other words, voters embraced personal freedom (human or otherwise) but not at the cost of community (as defined by the Democrat Party).
The blowout from Question #1 seems to me to be a clear rebuke not only to the libertarian fantasies that motivated some of its proponents but also to the “starve the beast” apologists who in some cases were gleeful about the prospects of chaos engulfing the state. The Massachusetts Republican Party found itself divided on the ballot question between Republican public officials who opposed it (from Beacon Hill on down to local officials) & many GOP activists who supported it. In contrast to Republican squabbling, the Democrats presented a united front behind a clear & compelling message that swayed voters in large numbers. Thanks to the GOP, Democrats seized the opportunity to reinforce the necessity of their paradigm.
Regular readers of this blog know that I vehemently opposed Question #1 from the start & offered a counterproposal which would have put the Democrats on the defensive & marginalized Carla & her Howellettes as fringe extremists while conversely situating the GOP as responsible, mainstream problem solvers. Given the party’s blowout on the national level & how it might have affected races in this state, it’s possible that even the counterproposal would have failed to win over a majority of voters. Yet even the failure of the counterproposal this year would have been a respectable foundation to launch another attack the following election cycle with a greater chance of success. Instead, the tremendous failure of Question #1 will now be used as proof by the Democrats that voters prefer their paradigm & that Democrat advocacy against Question #1 reinforces said party’s bona fides as the party that governs responsibly (as opposed to the hapless GOP who can’t even agree among themselves as to how to respond to the “crazed” Howellettes – let alone how irresponsibly some of them behaved when faced with the threat of social instability). I have no idea to what extent the implied GOP indifference to the ramifications of Question #1 played in the defeat of many GOP candidates this year who came from strong municipal backgrounds but I’m sure said perception’s didn’t help either. Democrats had multiple echo chambers; the GOP had none.
I’m as passionate on reducing government as anyone else on this blog & I think a case can be made to the voters to do just that. However, Republicans/conservatives need to abjure reactionary quick fixes as symbolized by Question #1. To persist in such follies damages the credibility of the party/movement & guarantees that the voters will NEVER be comfortable giving its consent to a group of people whose absolute hostility to the public sector makes them incapable of being good stewards & managers of local & state government.