Rock stars seldom come to Springfield, but between the screaming fans, packed seats, and the music of the Black Eyed Peas and the Dropkick Murphys, you would never know it. Governor Deval Patrick and everybody on down in the Springfield area Democratic party were there, crowded into a sweltering Old First Church for a Get Out the Vote rally. Speakers included the governor, emcee Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Democratic nominee for Treasurer Steve Grossman, Democratic nominee for Auditor Suzanne Bump, Ward 2 City Councilor Michael Fenton, and, of course, Congressman Richard Neal.
The event was meant to drum up enthusiasm and support for Democratic candidates in Massachusetts for Election Day, which nationally, if not locally, is expected to be tough for Democrats. For the most part, the candidates appeared to do their job in this regard drawing cheers and applause from the diverse crowd of workers, volunteers, and ordinary citizens.
Our focus here, however, is to endorse Congressman Richard Neal for reelection to the United States House of Representatives for the 2nd Massachusetts Congressional District. His rousing speech only underscored the reasons we mentioned earlier this year as to why he is well-respected and well-thought of in Springfield, Chicopee, Northampton, and the suburbs east which form his district.
Taken in context his remarks were before a friendly audience, though they nonetheless highlighted the fact that many of the nation’s greatest social endeavors and economies were overseen by Democrats. Neal also spoke of the $750 million Iraq war $2.3 trillion Bush tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003. All were paid for with debt.
Neal made a particular point to highlight his vote against the invasion of Iraq, while praising the work done by those soldiers that have been deployed overseas. This statement, alone has not earned our approval. Neal has been a tireless advocate for tax reform, notably the Alternative Minimum Tax, whose ensnarement of the middle class has its roots in the 1986 tax code. He has been a tireless advocate for the preservation of Social Security. A great deal of credit rightly goes to Neal for the peaceful solution in Northern Ireland.
The subject of Ireland, incidentally, brings us to his opponent. Businessman Tom Wesley of Hopedale spoke before the primary of how Ireland was a model for us since its corporate business tax is among the world’s lowest. However, it is worth noting that the Republic of Ireland has suffered mightily during this fiscal crisis and its economy will absorb billions of euros worth of bank losses, that if their economy was scaled to ours in size, would equal trillions of dollars. Nowhere near that much has been lost here. Wesley touts his business experience and good work with numbers, but he filed for bankruptcy ten years ago. We say these points, not to tear down Wesley, but to illustrate that he is not what he seems. His mentioning Ireland was clearly a dig on Neal given the Congressman’s work regarding the Emerald Isle. However, it ended up being a cheap shot and hollow one to boot. Ireland’s economy had already nearly disintegrated (by far it was in worse condition than the US economy), when Wesley made that statement.
No, we are fully confident that Neal represents us admirably in Washington. Much has been made in this election season that the problem is incumbents and politicians, but we submit that they alone are not at the heart of the problem. We will save a larger reflection of America and society for another time, but we will note that the vitriol, screaming, and anger has not served the interests of anybody. It is not surprising that people are reacting this way, but any sensible person would agree that the best decisions in our lives are made calmly and thoughtfully.
Our endorsements this election season, if a little predictable, were made with the same thoughtfulness. One may criticize what seems like a Springfield-centric approach we made in our past assessment of Neal, but that was not the result of provincial attitudes. The truth is that much of Western and Central Mass, its cities, suburbs, and rural communities share a common destiny and common problems. We are not Boston with its name recognition and influence nationally and regionally. For those reasons we need an advocate like Neal who delivers not just reliably, but compassionately.
Some years ago a woman in Chicopee lost the flag given to her after a close relative died. The rumor was that it had been stolen. Richard Neal personally delivered a replacement. Maybe other Congressman have done that, but it does not matter because our Congressman did.
We could go on, but instead, we shall simply end with saying that Richard Neal receives our highest endorsement for election to the US House of Representatives.