9th CONGRESS DISTRICT : A CAMPAIGN THAT IS NO CAMPAIGN AT ALL

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^ the least no-campaign of the four and thus the odd man out ? John Chapman, endorsed by Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez

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Four Republicans seek the party’s nomination to lose in November to current Congressman Bill Keating.

That is the fundamental dynamic in this campaign which isn’t really a campaign at all.

Because the four are running a race they will not win, the entire effort is to see which kind of Republican will win the nomination and thus give tone to the Republican party as it peoples the communities within the 9th District.

Minority parties often turn in upon themselves in this fashion. It becomes more important –MUCH more important — within them to see who will command the party than who might actually win an election. in Massachusetts, that’s how the entire GOP operates except for the very separate Governor GOP. The Governor GOP exists to win elections. It’s a normal political party and voices normal political policies that can very well win a majority vote. The same is definitely not true of the other MA GOP. It knows it cannot win and advocates policies that assure that it won’t win, policies advanced for the express purpose of keeping everybody else out. That is why the other MA GOP liberally offends all kinds of voters. The more voters it offends, the less competition for leadership of the party.

It is difficult to run a campaign for Congress within a framework of offending as many voters as possible. Most people who become candidates assume that winning is the objective. It takes them a while to realize that the opposite is what they’ve stepped into. It must be quite a revelation for them to realize that such efforts are won by the candidate who can successfully offend the most voters.

I call a campaign of this type “no campaign at all.” Just as accurate would be to call it an ‘anti-campaign,” a rejection of the very notion of campaigning as we understand the word “campaign” in a democracy. This sort of campaign is Leninist : his method was to direct the Bolshevik party to such extremes as to eliminate all but the hardest of hard core followers.

Leninism is the operative principle of the anti-campaigns that mark most of today’s GOP.

But the Leninists still do not have the ground all to themselves; within the MA GOP there are — to extend the analogy to Russia 1917 — Mensheviks too, and constitutional socialists like Alexsandr Kerensky, even some moderate democrats like Paul Miliukov. And these forces have money behind them, and voters, and they have no intention of being Lenin’d out of the GOP. Thus there is political significance to the GOP primary in the 9th Congress District despite its no-campaign thrust.

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^ playing no-campaign in a District in which exist many issues that a no-campaign refuses to address

The leading candidates all talk the usual national GOP talking points : that the ACA is bad, that we need “job creation,’ that unemployment benefits and other social safety net programs are bad. Nothing could be more meaningless, or boring, not to mention stupid, than these mantras. Because they are utterly meaningless, the actual meaning in the 9th District Primary lies elsewhere, in the no-campaign groove. You must get this fact so as not to dismiss John Chapman, especially, as just another robo. Or to think Daniel Shores naive, or Vincent Cogliano passe’.

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^ young, even normal, ambition : Daniel Shores

Shores is the kind of young, ambitious lawyer who in MA usually runs as a Democrat — in a state where “Demoocrat” means “i want to win’ just as much, or more, than it means anything about policy. Were Shores to win the primary, it would inject some measure of normal political ambition into a party in which ambition usually takes a darker turn.

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Cogliano is a local politician’s local, and as all normal politics is local, his victory would add to the MA GOP some measure of attention to precinct, ward, and community politics, at which most of the MA GOP fails all tests.

Then there’s John Chapman. He has the endorsement of Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez, who lives not far outside the District. Gomez today is by far Massachusetts’s most -progressive GOP voice, more so than even Richard Tisei. His endorsement of Chapman, in the state’s most Portuguese District, will carry weight and should. (Gomez is not Portuguese, but as an Hispanic he knows the next-door Portuguese community better than most Anglos.) Chapman seems actually to be seeking voters who want to win the election. To do that, he will have to set aside his robo mantra and campaign on real issues that matter to Portuguese voters : fishing rights, Federal dollars for Section 8 housing and for port building, education reform, student debt reform, ¬†transportation funding, immigrants’ rights : stuff that no-campaign Republicans loathe and spurn. Unfortunately for Chapman, the more he addresses such issues, the more anathema he becomes to Leninist GOP cadres.

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^ Like Lenin with his mentor Georgi Plekhanov : Mark Alliegro with the no-campaign theorist (and former Congressman) Allen West

These cadres belong to the fourth candidate, Mark Alliegro, whose pronunciamentos epitomize the world of no-campaign, of GOP Leninism. Alliegro condemns the ACA, shoots his gun rights mouth off about ‘social engineering,” talks the “freedom’ mantra of those to whom “freedom’ means eliminating all social safety net — indeed, all federal government programs you can think of except (maybe) Defense. For no-campaign Leninism, Alliegro’s rant matches Mark Fisher’s failed governor effort and maybe even surpasses it ; because where Fisher assaulted the Governor GOP in its stronghold — liked the failed Bolshevik attempt of 1917 — Allegro is challenging only the 9th District outpost, a fortress not defended by the Governor GOP. He may not conquer the outpost; but do not bet against it.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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