Certain serendipitous events of last weekend have renewed my optimism about the 2014 election, and beyond.
On Friday, I attended the monthly Center-Right Coalition meeting at which we activists get together for updates and new ideas from various activist groups and candidates. There was a PowerPoint presentation from a new group called the NewMassPlaybook, introduced by Dean Cavaretta, who ran for the Legislature in 2012; he didn’t win, but he learned a lot about the Republican presence in Massachusetts during that experience.
Two young men, 19 and 17 years old, made the presentation. Well-spoken and confident, Mike Gorecki and Brian Senier showed data on Republican candidates for higher office winning, often by large margins, in the towns, but losing in the cities and, therefore, losing. NewMassPlaybook has a plan to reach out not only to other young people, but to voters of all ages, particularly in the cities.
I took them to lunch, because I had to know what made them like “us,” the Center-Right, at their age. They said they’d been inspired in grade school when they learned about Ronald Reagan: They’re the Gen Y’ers who are following the Gen X and Boomer “Reagan kids” into political activism because of President Reagan’s message and optimism!
I said I could relate to this, having started my own political activism because of Barry Goldwater. They said he’d inspired them, too, when they read “Conscience of a Conservative” in fifth or sixth grade. I ... was ... floored.
Serendipity. The next day, I was a guest at the Lynn Republican City Committee annual cookout, and one of the auction items was a Barry Goldwater pin — a little gold elephant wearing his trademark dark-rimmed eyeglasses. I eagerly bid for it and won the bid at $35!
More serendipity: The next day I saved almost half that amount from the sales tax holiday, buying several months’ worth of household goods, personal-care items and cat food! Total savings was $16.34, which went to the Lynn Republican City Committee to begin preparation for the 2014 election instead of to the state with its waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and corruption.
My Barry Goldwater elephant will be my totem as I make my ongoing case that when some dissident Republicans refer to RINOs — Republicans in Name Only — they should define a RR — Real Republican — as libertarian Republican Barry Goldwater.
I didn’t get interested in politics until he was the presidential candidate in 1964, when I was a few years older than Brian and Mike. They made me remember the excitement of the campaign, the hope and optimism beginning again after the horror of the Kennedy assassination, in the midst of the Cold War, at the beginning of Vietnam.
I also remember the excitement and empowerment of the early years of initiative petition activism in Massachusetts. There have been few ballot questions in recent years; when the Legislature froze the income tax rate rollback in 2002 after the voters passed it in 2000, this discouraged future attempts at voter control.
Last Wednesday (Aug. 7), on the constitutional deadline for filing initiative petitions, 33 petitions were filed, and impressively, all of them were listed immediately on the attorney general’s website. Some of them are the same subject with different language to make sure at least one is in proper form; others are constitutional amendments that are just beginning a long process to get to the 2016 ballot.
But 15 are petitions for a statute: If sufficient signatures are collected this fall, they could be on the 2014 ballot to inspire voter interest and turnout. When we know which ones will be on the streets in September, I’ll write about them all here.
Right now, I’m especially interested in two of them, filed to repeal parts of the Patrick-Legislative tax increase that passed in late July.
“Repeal of Gas Tax Indexing” would repeal the part that adjusts the gas tax each January to the Consumer Price Index, increasing it without any further, controversial, roll-call vote from our representatives. This cowardly plan inspires an opposition slogan of “No taxation without representation.” It’s hard to organize a petition drive in the short time after the tax package passed, but a group of Republican legislators and activists are giving it a try.
“Act to Repeal 2013 Sales Tax on Computer and Software Technology Services,” filed by business leaders who are appalled by this assault on the growth sector of the Massachusetts economy, may not need to get to the ballot. This was Gov. Patrick’s bright idea to tax computer services of some sort provided by some companies somewhere, maybe in something called “the cloud,” maybe not; legislators who voted for it and are just now learning what they voted for must be a tad concerned about being on the 2014 ballot with the “Repeal the Job Killer” initiative petition. Do they run against it saying “No, keep the job killer” or “I didn’t know what I was voting on?” Watch for the Legislature to return soon to repeal the Job Killer themselves.
It’s an exciting time, once again, to be a political activist in Massachusetts and nationally, looking forward to a Barry Goldwater revival.
Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.