The Salem News
---- — To the editor:
I’m supporting Richard Tisei for Congress in 2014.
Richard has said that it’s easier to be gay in Massachusetts than it is to be a Republican. That’s not a happy jest; it’s a sad truth. If you live in Massachusetts, you’ve heard hate speech directed toward Republicans. And that shouldn’t be OK. When people have differing views, we should embrace those new ideas and honestly evaluate them. This is how politics should work.
Liberty has always been my focus, but I have recently come to realize that my liberty only exists at the tolerance of others. Our Constitution, with good reason, is designed to protect us from a tyranny of the majority. In a democracy, however, a large enough majority can take rights away from a minority at the ballot box. Only the truly tolerant prevent a whimsical prohibition based on the will of the current majority. Our democracy cannot be two wolves and a sheep voting on who is for dinner.
Thus, for me to champion liberty, I must make everyone understand that there is no liberty without tolerance.
Over the course of our campaigning, Richard welcomed conversation about issues. When we agreed on issues (frequently), Richard was not threatened by our overlap. He felt no need to paint me as an extremist. Instead, he tolerated me for who I am, and my political ideas for the merits that they had.
And that was when I began to realize the hypocrisy of conversations about tolerance in Massachusetts. Many Bay Staters point to their approval of marriage equality as an indication of them being tolerant. In reality, though, accepting the norm is not tolerance. The overwhelming majority in Massachusetts approves of marriage equality. What happens, though, when you ask “tolerant” people how they feel about something they don’t approve of? We used to pride ourselves as a nation on tolerance. When it came to First Amendment issues, Americans love the phrase “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
And while we pay lip service to that phrase, the reality is that the Democratic machine has no tolerance for moderate ideals or moderate Republicans. Even moderate Democrats are a threat to the party base. Stephen Lynch probably would have won the general election for Senate — he just couldn’t win the Democratic primary because he was a moderate.
Electing moderates, however, is good for Massachusetts. The North Shore, with its contrasting communities from Lynn to Essex and North Andover to Gloucester, is a diverse community. We welcome that diversity. We go beyond tolerance — we embrace our differences.
The Democratic Party has realized that it cannot tolerate moderation. Moderate Democrats understand the fiscal crisis facing our nation and the need to control spending. Moderate Republicans appreciate that people have the right to as much liberty in their bedrooms as in their doctor’s office as in their school choice as in their choice for a partner. A fiscally conservative and socially tolerant candidate is a threat to the democratic order in Massachusetts.
In the past few elections, the Democratic Party has been given a gift of a few socially conservative Republicans on the national stage. These vocal extremist Republicans have helped the Democrats win election after election, in spite of the fact that most Americans are wary of the massively increasing size and scope of our federal government.
As a result of these victories, the Democratic playbook is to preach intolerance for political beliefs other than their own, and to paint everyone who is not a Democrat as a small-minded bigot. In reality, of course, a socially tolerant candidate like Richard Tisei is the Democratic Party’s worst nightmare. You would think that Democrats would welcome a shift in the GOPs social policies, but they actually fear it. Should moderates like Richard Tisei get elected, it will become apparent that real tolerance is about tolerating views that you don’t agree with.
Contrast that with the constant attempts to paint Richard as an ally of extremists. It’s completely disingenuous to compare Richard with social conservatives. I hope tolerant North Shore voters will accept Richard for who he truly is: a fiscal conservative who has been consistently socially tolerant. I would ask people on the North Shore to evaluate him based on who he says he is.
Those who would engage in demagoguery to slander are the true intolerants unable to accept that there is a new movement among conservatives that recognizes that the extent of our liberty is based on the breadth of our tolerance.
And that’s why I will be voting for Richard Tisei, the most tolerant and, thus, the most liberty-minded candidate.