Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Train Wreck For Your Viewing Pleasure

Yes, I'm talking about the Massachusetts Republican Party, a continual source of amusement for many of us here in The Commonwealth. The latest embarrassment is that the nationally-anointed challenger to John Kerry, Jim Ogonowski, failed to obtain enough legal signatures -- and only 10,000 are required -- to appear on his own party's primary ballot. By thirty (30) signatures.

Although there's another Republican who will be on the ballot (after submitting 17,000 signatures), his name has not even been mentioned by national (especially Senate) Republicans who had high hopes for Ogonowski after he mounted a surprisingly strong challenge to Niki Tsongas for the U.S. House seat vacated by Marty Meehan last year.


Republican voters have recently been in short supply here in the Bay State. This is widely misinterpreted and spun by propagandists as an indication that MA is extremely liberal. The truth is that citizens from a wide variety of positions identify as Democrats here, from socially conservative (anti-choice, anti-gay-marriage) to liberal/progressive. It's possible for the entire left-right dialog to take place within the party.

The traditional New England Republican, on the other hand, was fiscally conservative and socially liberal (more accurately, "small-l" libertarian), and wouldn't fit into any 21st-century pigeonhole. Unable to gain any traction around the wedge issues that define the national GOP, the current state Republican party has been reduced to little more than an empty label, the party leadership unable make a cogent case for its nonexistent platform.

When Mitt Romney ran for governor, he vowed to grow the number of Republican state senators and representatives; that election (which he won with big support from independents and Reagan Democrats) resulted in an embarrassing net loss of GOP State House seats. The bleeding that started before that election was only exacerbated during the gay marriage discussion, as some of the foot-draggers were dismissed at the polls in subsequent elections -- Democrats and Republicans alike.

When it became apparent that the prize for Mitt had been a platform from which to campaign for president -- and spending two to three weeks of the month out of the state in the process -- the one thing Republicans could try to pin their hopes on (literally) went South. His lieutenant governor, Kerry Healy, mounted a poorly-run and extremely negative campaign for governor, against the competent, progressive, and likable Deval Patrick, and lost in a rout.

So the Republican Party in Massachusetts continues to shoot itself in the foot with its incompetence, lack of leadership, and indifference to the responsibilities of public office. Especially with the national GOP on the verge of spectacular meltdown, there's really no end in sight. I couldn't be more delighted.