SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 18, 2014

Benton: Missing Massachusetts' unity, resolve

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — It’s tough being 3,000 miles away as Boston observes the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, just as it was a year ago when the horrific explosions brought an abrupt halt to the activities celebrating all things New England.

Watching events unfold on TV is a poor substitute for being there. But it does allow for time to reflect on what it means to be from a region founded as a haven for those fleeing religious persecution in Europe, whose early settlers helped foment the rebellion against the British monarchy, whose intellectuals gave rise to the abolitionist movement in the middle of the 19th century, and whose capital city remains a hub for higher education, medical innovation and cultural pursuits.

Unity of purpose, which was a central theme of Tuesday’s memorial ceremonies at Hynes Auditorium and on Boylston Street, help bind the wounds of last year’s tragedy at the marathon finish line. Though it has its share of political divisions like any other state, Massachusetts residents share common pride in both the history of their commonwealth and its institutions, ranging from the Red Sox to the Boston Pops. And they recognize that violence is no substitute for reason in resolving our differences.

John Adams, a native of Quincy and our nation’s second president, described the founding of the United States in 1776 as “thirteen clocks ... made to strike together — a perfection of mechanism, which no artist had ever before effected.” Sadly, here in Arizona, some legislators seem more interested in striking those clocks asunder.

Earlier this month several, including two representatives of Legislative District 22 where I live (Sen. Judy Burges and Rep. David Livingston), saw fit to abandon their official responsibilities in Phoenix and travel to Nevada for a rally on behalf of a law-breaking rancher. They’re impressed, apparently, with his refusal to pay for the use of federal lands to graze his cattle and willingness to defy federal law.

The Arizona Republic, in an editorial Tuesday, rightly called the actions of these legislators “obscene.” Certainly, they would be a disappointment to Adams and others who fought so hard for the creation and preservation of these United States of America.

This Monday, the Sox will play at Fenway Park, and tens of thousands will line the streets of Boston, defying those who would seek to make us afraid and cheering on those with the will and stamina to make the long run from Hopkinton. A few miles away, others will witness the re-enactment of the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord that sparked the creation of a nation.

I’ll miss both the pageantry and sanity that prevails there.

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Count GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker as one who is impressed with the Bay State’s innovative spirit, but not the Legislature’s penchant for higher taxes and fees. He states in a recent opinion column:

“Massachusetts is a leader in creating new, better, less expensive ways of doing all sorts of things, but state government does little or none of it. Beacon Hill is happy to get creative about ways to take money from us — like high-speed toll collecting — but has no urgency about creating a modern RMV that doesn’t require hours of standing in line.

“It’s time state government embraced the innovation that is going on all around it.

In spite of what you hear from Beacon Hill, state government doesn’t have a revenue problem. Nor does the state lack resources to properly fund our education, transportation and social service priorities.

What it lacks is imagination, and a leader that will challenge the status quo.”