The Salem News
---- — So there I was, at the second 6th Congressional District debate, held by The Salem News and The Jewish Journal. Participants were again, in alphabetical order, Libertarian Daniel Fishman, incumbent Democrat John Tierney, and fiscal conservative-social liberal Republican challenger Richard Tisei. I’ll try to show you what the evening was like.
I took advantage of the Danvers debate site to stop for a quick supper at Brothers Restaurant. Got talking with the owner about his recent trip to Greece so reached the high school later than I’d planned, in a frame of mind to be very concerned about our country following Greece into debt perdition. Was surprised, on a rainy evening, to see so many signholders lined up along the entranceway; there seemed to be many more signs for Tierney.
Therefore I was surprised to find that there were many more Tisei than Tierney supporters inside the auditorium. Guess some union guys came early to do their duty and then went home, and that’s OK.
The format was simple: questions from three panelists for all three candidates to answer. First question, how would you get people back to work? Tierney began by talking about the President’s “jobs bill,” which encouraged Fishman to note that government doesn’t create jobs, with which thought Tisei agreed, then noted the things that government’s been doing to prevent job creation, creating instead uncertainty about taxes and regulation.
To clarify this point, Fishman offered his original “First three are free” proposal to employers: hire three new employees with no paperwork, no government requirements or roadblocks, just give them a paycheck. He said that there are many one-person businesses that would quickly hire someone to help if it was a simple thing to do.
Tisei noted that five organizations, rating Congress on business-climate issues, gave Tierney scores ranging from 19 percent from the National Chamber of Commerce, to zero percent with the National Federation of Independent Businesses and National Retail Association; two other Massachusetts Democrats got as high as 66 percent. Tierney responded by calling the groups “all wings of the Republican Party.” Tisei told him that “small businesses aren’t partisan, they’re job creators.”
The pattern for the debate was set early. Fishman had interesting ideas, Tisei said he’d fairly consider anyone’s ideas, Tierney ignored Fishman and attacked Republicans in general and the Tea Party, which wasn’t even at this party, since no one was asked about the national debt.
As Tisei cited many examples of his ability, while a Massachusetts legislator, to get along with both Democrats and Republicans, Fishman joked that if elected he’d only talk to other Libertarians. Tisei noted that Tierney votes with the Democratic leadership 99 percent of the time, including the strictly partisan vote to pass ObamaCare with no Republican support while the Massachusetts version was a bi-partisan effort.
Regardless of what Tisei and Fishman said about working well with others, Tierney insisted that Tisei would “support the Tea Party that doesn’t believe in government.” Actually, it’s Libertarians like Fishman who would severely limit government, while the Tea Party just wants it to live within our means and the Constitution. Tisei cited his several awards from human service groups.
Fishman and Tisei were good-natured throughout the debate, with the latter even joking about being the only gay, pro-choice Republican attacked as an extremist by his Democrat opponent. But at the end, when Tierney charged that Tisei hadn’t paid some taxes (reflecting business losses during the recession), Tisei expressed astonishment that someone who hadn’t declared over $200,000 in family income from illegal gambling would bring up the subject of unpaid taxes!
Driving home later in the drizzle, I mused that there are three kinds of people involved in politics as either candidates or voters: partisans, who get caught up in the party thing and generally vote along party lines whether or not they agree with their leadership; ideologues, who vote for principles that they think are right and on candidates/issues as they reflect those ideals; pragmatists, who vote for what they think will work. (I’m not counting the clueless/apathetic who probably shouldn’t vote at all.)
Based on what I observed during the two debates I attended, Tierney is clearly the first kind; Fishman is the second; Tisei represents the best of each: he chose a party that most often reflects his ideas, which he calls Goldwater Republican, but votes for what he thinks works for his constituents. I’m an Independent small-l libertarian, but if I wanted to be a viable politician, having to choose a party to get elected, I’d probably be like him.
Well, except for the good-natured part. Somewhere in that debate I’d have had enough of Tierney’s broad-based guilt-by-association and waved the nine Democratic Party flyers accusing me of wanting to kill Medicare, send American jobs overseas, and prevent abortion even for rape and to save the life of the mother, and demanded that Tierney disavow them or defend the lies to the debate crowd. If he refused, I’d have asked him to take a lie detector test on when he noticed his tax returns hadn’t declared $200,000 in taxes. Take that, incumbent partisan pol!