Monday, June 15, 2015

This Is What Is Wrong With Politics Today

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Monday, June 15, 2015
By Bill Gouveia

            If you want a perfect example of what is wrong with politics today, you need look no further than what happened this week when Governor Charlie Baker visited our area to attend a fundraiser for State Representative Betty Poirier (R-North Attleboro).


            Baker is a Republican.  Poirier supported him during the hotly-contested election this past fall.  In Massachusetts, Republican legislatures are almost as rare as Yankee fans.  As Governor, Baker has a vested interest in trying to help the GOP increase and at the very least maintain their numbers in both the House and Senate.


            So is there anything wrong or unusual with Gov. Baker helping to boost Rep. Poirier’s campaign coffers and already considerable popularity in her district?  Nope – nothing at all.  It is a standard tradition practiced by both major parties all the time.


            But the Massachusetts Democratic Party is apparently running out of things to complain about.  The party organization decided to criticize the Governor for attending the fundraiser based upon one political position (albeit an important one) where he and Poirier disagree – abortion and a woman’s right to choose.


            Poirier has never been shy about her opposition to legalized abortion, and has in the past both sponsored and supported legislation that would deny women that option.  But quite frankly, most of that was for show.  Chances of legislation like that succeeding here in the Bay State are about equal to my chances of making the Patriots practice squad.


            Pat Beaudry, a spokesperson for the party, claimed this week that by his visit Baker “is in fact supporting an agenda ostensibly counter to his own regarding choice.”  She went on to add that his “headlining Rep. Poirier’s event is a perfect example of the governor’s willingness to support Republicans of all stripes here in Massachusetts, regardless of his own publicly stated positions.”


            And that, ladies and gentlemen, is pure and unadulterated crap.


            Yours truly is no great fan of Betty Poirier as a legislator.  This space has often been critical of her performance and actions on a wide variety of fronts.  We are polar opposites in most of our political positions and beliefs.


            But her general position on that particular topic should have no bearing on Gov. Baker’s decision to support her.  And by trying to make it one, the Democratic State Party looks like the whiny bunch of liberal complainers the Republican State Party often makes them out to be.


            Poirier was absolutely correct when she said of the “controversy” that erupted as a result of the Governor’s visit:  “I guess there can’t be a lot of big news out there today.”


            Rep. Poirier has been elected and re-elected many times by the good people of her district.  While certainly conservative, she is reasonably representative of the general political philosophy of her constituents.  She is not so radically different that she should be cast as a pariah.


            Is this what state and national politics have to be about?  Must our elected leaders be required to only surround themselves with people who share their views?  Are both Governor Baker and Representative Poirier doing such a good job that Democrats are reduced to foolish complaining such as this?


            And let’s be clear.  This type of despicable tactic is practiced with great regularity by both major parties.  In fact, Republicans may even be better at it than Democrats.  Neither group holds the moral high ground here.


            But it’s getting old.


            Maybe we out here in the Sun Chronicle area just aren’t accustomed to the glare of the spotlight that accompanies high-ranking officials like the Governor as they venture out of our capitol city.  Could it be we (or at least this writer) are just “small-town” and don’t get how real politics work?


            If that is the case – and I don’t believe it for a minute – then we should wear that as a badge of honor.  Our local politics can be intense, personal, and sometimes just silly.  But a local leader who doesn’t establish close relationships with people holding different views usually doesn’t have much success.


              I understand state party officials get paid to politick.  But our officials give us enough reason to complain without having more invented for us.


            Neither Rep. Poirier not the Governor deserved the cheap shot.


Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official.  He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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