Party Games

25Feb11

US Senator-elect Scott BrownThe release of his new book, an interview on last Sunday’s edition of 60 Minutes and assorted other media appearances to promote his book have thrust Scott Brown in front of the national media spotlight once again.

Not since his upset win over Martha Coakley in a special election just over a year ago to fill the US Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy has there been so much national media attention focused on Scott Brown. His book, Against All Odds, was released Monday, and it chronicles his time growing up in Wakefield, Massachusetts where he was a basketball and track star before graduating from Wakefield High School in 1977.
Against All OddsThe book also talks about the physical and mental abuse that he endured at the hands of several step-fathers and episodes of sexual abuse that he suffered as a boy of 10 at the hands of a camp counselor at a summer camp on Cape Cod.
Being elected a United States Senator is a big deal. Other than president and vice president, there is no higher elective office than US Senator. Given that, it seems to me that there has not been as much of a fuss in Wakefield as one would expect over the fact that we have a United States Senator from our town.

I’m not so much talking about the local press, which has certainly covered Brown’s election and background to responsible degree. The press has a duty to demonstrate a certain balance and not to be a cheerleading squad.

And Sen. Brown will be honored locally next month when he shares the limelight with eight other people being inducted into the Wakefield High School Hall of Fame. That seems like a no-brainer and the least the town could do.

I’m thinking more of the kind of excitement that was demonstrated here in 2009, when new President Barack Obama was inaugurated. To celebrate, there was a big “non-partisan” event at the Americal Civic Center.
Selling Obamacare - July 22, 2009
Granted, Obama was elected president, not senator. But President Obama did not grow up in Wakefield. In fact, he was born and raised in Hawaii, which is about as far away from Wakefield as you can get and still be born in one of the 50 states. But Wakefield still had a big party to celebrate the inauguration of President Obama, involving the schools and all sorts of other local organizations.

I began to wonder why there was no “non-partisan” celebration for Scott Brown, the kid who grew up in Wakefield, graduated from Wakefield High School and went on to get himself elected to one of the highest offices in the land – United States Senator.

US Senator-elect Scott BrownI began to wonder what could be at play here. Some of it is probably attributable to Brown’s low-key, self-effacing personality. He has a reputation for focusing on the job and not seeking out the limelight.

Some would argue that President Obama’s election was historic, which it certainly was on a national level. But was the election of the first US senator from Wakefield not locally historic? Was the election of someone other than a Kennedy Democrat to that senate seat not historic for the state of Massachusetts?

I wondered if I had just hit upon my answer. Scott Brown is not a Democrat. Scott Brown is a Republican. Some folks just can’t get past an “R” next to someone’s name.

I mentioned my theory to a number of local political observers. How would Wakefield have reacted, I asked, if instead of electing Republican Scott Brown to the US Senate on January 19, 2010, a Democrat who grew up in the town of Wakefield had been elected?

“Oh, they would have closed the schools,” one local native observed.

I still can’t think of any reason to doubt that conclusion.

[This column originally appeared in the February 24, 2011 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Party Games”

  1. 1 Dennis Clancy

    Who organized & funded the Obama “non-partisan” event? Was it all locals or was there help from the Democrat party or Acorn? Do the locals who worked the event vote “D” or “R”. Was it all locals? I think the answer is there. If Brown was a “D” there would have been an event & Kennedy worshippers from all over would be flown, bussed, & driven in droves to put on a big show celebrating the passing of the torch (along with a few non-partisan folks of course). I believe you hit the nail on the head, well stated.


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