Congratulations to the voters of Wakefield, Massachusetts. One in four of you came out to vote in the recent special primary election to choose Teddy Kennedy’s successor in the US Senate. Wakefield’s 26 percent participation was nearly double the statewide turnout of 14 percent.
Somewhere, the Founding Fathers must be beaming with pride.
In the past, I’ve vocally decried voter apathy. I’ve done my share of railing against low voter turnout in elections and poor attendance at Town Meeting. But now, I think I’m beginning to understand voter indifference, at least as it relates to the recent Special Senate Primary.
On the Republican side, there was essentially no race, a reality borne out by the fact that Scott Brown defeated Jack E. Robinson by a nearly 9-1 margin state wide. So a lack of interest in the Republican primary was easy to understand.
But in a heavily Democratic state, with four Democrats vying to fill the Senate seat of a party legend, how do you explain a dismal turnout of under 15 percent? Sure, Martha Coakley was the odds-on favorite, but her three opponents were investing huge amounts of time, money and advertising in a campaign to counter the impression that Coakley was the presumptive Democratic candidate.
Everyone knows that Massachusetts is a Democratic state. It’s even safe to say that it’s a liberal Democratic state. But just how left-wing are mainstream Democrats and unenrolled voters eligible to vote in Massachusetts Democratic primary elections?
It seemed that during the Democratic primary campaign Martha Coakley, Mike Capuano, Steve Pagliuca and Alan Khazei were jockeying for the left-most positions on a host of issues. In so doing, I believe that the Gang of Four drifted beyond the territory occupied by mainstream Massachusetts Democrats.
The state has its share of moonbats, there’s no question. Mike Capuano even brought in Nancy Pelosi to appease that constituency. But I doubt that the mass of regular Democrats, even in Massachusetts, were much impressed with the San Francisco Speaker’s endorsement of Capuano. It certainly didn’t bring him within striking distance of frontrunner Coakley.
I come from a long line of Democrats. My Irish and Italian immigrant forbears became American citizens and enrolled in the Democratic Party because Democrats were “for the working people.” But among the candidates in the recent Senate primary, I didn’t see a lot of working class values that my Democrat parents and grandparents would have recognized. Would earlier generations of Democrats who once proudly cast their votes for FDR, Harry Truman and JFK even recognize the Democratic Party of Coakley, Capuano, Khazei and Pagliuca?
I voted in the recent Democratic Primary, but I didn’t vote for any of the candidates on the ballot. I wrote in the name of a well-known local Democrat who is not presently holding office. I won’t name him – I wouldn’t want to destroy his chances in case he ever decides to run for local office again.
Memo to the state Democratic Party: even here in the Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts, not everyone is to the left of Lenin. Even in Massachusetts, there are still moderate and even conservative Democrats. In the recent Senate Primary, those voters had nowhere to go. So they stayed home.
[This column originally appeared in the December 17, 2009 Wakefield Daily Item.]
Filed under: Columns & Essays, Community, News, Opinion, Politics, Wakefield | 3 Comments
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