No Shame in Voting for Moderates


Sen. Scott BrownCall me a homer. Call me provincial. You can even call me a Republican if it makes you happy and you don’t care much about accuracy. But on Tuesday, Nov. 6, I’ll be voting for the two moderate candidates from Wakefield, Massachusetts: Scott Brown and Richard Tisei, over their extremely partisan opponents. Tisei lives in Wakefield and Brown grew up here, graduating from Wakefield High School in 1977.

Why should anyone have to justify supporting moderate, middle-of-the-road candidates? Aren’t we taught from a young age that moderation is preferable to extremes? And yet we now have voices on our TVs and radios trying to tell us that we should apologize for favoring these moderate candidates.

Congressional candidate Richard Tisei Greets supportersOne of the principal arguments offered by those opposed to Brown and Tisei is that even if these two are themselves moderate, their election could throw control of the House and Senate to the Republicans.

I may be quaint and old-fashioned, but I tend to cling to lessons I was taught in my Wakefield High School social studies classes – that government works best when the two parties act as checks and balances on each other. Even if Tisei is elected and Brown re-elected, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation will still have an overwhelming 10-2 Democrat to Republican composition.

And yet some of the same people who at other times decry the partisan gridlock in Washington are now working overtime to send two more extreme partisans into the fray. To me it’s simple logic. The way to promote moderation is to elect moderates.

Of course, there are those who will say that Tisei and Brown are not truly moderate, citing “studies” that prove it. But when you look closely, these studies are often done by partisan publications or organizations with a bias. I prefer to go with the study done by the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly. In Brown’s case, for example, CQ found that he was the second most bipartisan senator – a rating that Brown himself has cited often on the campaign trail.

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Scott BrownBrown’s opponents claim that he only became bipartisan after Elizabeth Warren entered the race. But the CQ study covered the year 2011. Warren didn’t declare her candidacy until September of that year and was not chosen as the Democratic nominee until June of 2012.

Two weekends ago, I covered a rally in Melrose, Massachusetts for Scott Brown and Richard Tisei at which Sen. John McCain spoke. I arrived early and found a huge number of Brown and Tisei sign-holders lining Main Street in front of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall.

Sign-holdersI also noticed that there was an ever-growing contingent of Warren sign-holders gathering a half a block away and inching their way into the areas filled with Brown and Tisei supporters. Did the Warren supporters have a right to be there? Absolutely. But isn’t their habit of stalking Brown campaign events just a little unseemly if not a tad obnoxious? Don’t they have their own rallies to attend?

The Boston Globe’s recent endorsement of Republican Richard Tisei for Congress in the Sixth District race was unexpected and newsworthy.

But the Globe’s endorsement of Warren was no surprise and merely re-affirmed her as the candidate of the establishment, while Scott Brown can still lay claim to independent outsider status, fighting against business as usual.

It will all be over at 8 p.m. Tuesday night. Until then, the forces of extreme partisanship will be doing their best to convince us that voting for moderates like Scott Brown and Richard Tisei is something to be ashamed of.

I’m not buying it.

There’s no shame in going with the more independent candidates. There’s no shame in favoring bipartisan moderates over extreme partisans. And there’s no shame in voting for the hometown guys, Scott Brown and Richard Tisei.

[This column originally appeared in the November 1, 2012 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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