, Salem, MA


April 2, 2014

Letter: When moderate means liberal

To the editor:

While I appreciate the pragmatism of the recent column on the Massachusetts GOP (“GOP’s greatest foes are Republicans,” March 28), its author misses an important point.

Few will dispute that Republicans in Massachusetts must soften their tone if they wish to peel away enough unenrolled votes to win elections. However, in current political discourse (and the recent column), the word “moderate” has become code for “liberal.” Moderate means middle, not far-left. When Mr. Benton urges “a more moderate stance on social issues,” he is actually calling for a standard liberal stance. Yes, the path to victory lies in winning unenrolled votes, but without losing an equal number of votes from the base. The moderate GOP candidate’s goal should be to stretch the campaign message in order to embrace as much of the conservative-libertarian-moderate spectrum as possible.

Regarding Mr. Benton’s ideal GOP candidate, consider Gabriel Gomez. A young Latino, a Democrat’s dream Republican, he was at least as liberal as Tisei, with the added bonus of having voted for President Obama in 2008. He lost abysmally to a stuffy, white, establishment Democrat, Ed Markey. If the Republican resembles the Democrat in all but name, why would an undecided voter choose him?

Tisei ignores this at his political peril. If, in gaining the 17 votes per precinct that stood between him and victory in 2012, he embraces positions that cause 18 conservative voters to stay home, he will lose, provided that Tierney’s turnout remains steady. If the base abandons him, he will never win enough swing voters in this district to prevail.

I voted for Tisei in 2012 because I, too, am a political pragmatist. However, I have several conservative friends who stayed home — the price to be paid by a Republican veering to the left of a true moderate.

Michael DuBois


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