^ Massachusetts’s South Shore and South Coast : the nation’s most Portuguese Congressional District
Two years ago we wrote about the Republican Primary in the 9th Congressional District, which covers the South Coast and the shoreline communities of Plymouth County south of Scituate. This link takes you what we wrote back then : https://hereandsphere.com/2014/04/13/9th-congress-district-a-campaign-that-is-no-campaign-at-all/
Then, it was four candidates vying to face the District’s Congressman, Bill Keating. This time there’s but two Republicans on offer : Tom O’Malley of Marshfield, and Mark Alliegro, who was one of 2014’s four. Alliegro finished second last time to the winner, John Chapman.
We called the 2014 GOP primary “a campaign that is no campaign at all.” We so opined because it seemed to us that none of the four men addressed the major concerns of the 9th Congress District, nor did they have much chance of winning. They seemed more interested in each other than in Mr. Keating.
I don’t see much difference this time, except that the followers of O’Malley and of Alliegro don’t seem particularly to like one another, or the opposing candidate. That happens in primaries.
Sometimes the bad blood has to do with issues. This time it seems more a matter of temperament. Mr. Alliegro — who blocked this writer on facebook two years ago — appears comfortable running a Trumpist candidacy replete with insult and confrontation. Mr. O’Malley, meanwhile, hews to the graciousness one saw in John Kasich. This writer prefers the Kasich approach. Yet on the issue tops in the Trump world — immigration — Mr. O’Malley’s position reads a whole lot more like Trump than does Alliegro’s : http://www.omalleyforcongress.com/border-security-immigration-reform.
As the “9th CD” is the nation’s most Portuguese, including all of New Bedford and the south half of Fall River, not to overlook Wareham, Plymouth, and the Outer Cape, a candidate who talks, as does O’Malley, of “illegals’ and decries that today’s immigrants do not “assimilate” seems ill suited to represent it. the “9th CD” is alive with Azorean culture, Madeiran food, Cape Verdean commerce, and fishermen from all over the world of Portugal and its diaspora. The “Festa” on Madeira Avenue in New Bedford draws tens of thousands from all over the South Coast; and Fall River offers authentic Azorean and Madeiran cuisine all over town as well as Portuguese-American dance music in its many nightclubs. Mr. Alliegro, one expects to not care much about it; but O’Malley, you would think, would espouse sort version of the Dream Act, if not Jeb Bush’s all embracing welcome f or immigrants who come here as “an act of love.”
Embracing the vibrant immigrant society of the “9th CD” would seem a first principle for Mr. O’Malley. Nor does the challenge to his candidacy stop there. Read, for example, what O’Malley has to say about the opioid addiction problem, highlighted for Cape Cod in a documentary movie sponsored last year by Governor Baker: http://omalleyforcongress.com/opiate-and-drug-problem.
O’Malley doesn’t mention the Cape Cod heroin movie, nor does he talk in any way about the significant opioid addiction legislation enacted by our legislature this year. The South Coast hosts one of our state’s most effective drug addiction response organizations, not to mention being home to the Chris Herren Initiative (Herren is a Fall River native). Has O’Malley visited either ? Does he know of them ? Has he spoken to advocates in District Attorney Quinn’s office ? His brief and superficial statement suggests he has not.
Mark Alliegro’s response to the opiate addiction crisis is actually much, much more detailed and better informed than O’Malley’s : http://www.markalliegroforcongress.org/opiate_abuse
On the other hand, Alliegro’s only comment about immigration is that we need “a rational immigration system.” Nor does he do much to bring me aboard when he says about President Obama that “During this Administration’s time in office, we have seen inaction, deception, and missteps all of which weaken us at home and abroad. We give aid and comfort to our enemies, while our military, our allies and our foreign service professionals get little of each.” He is mistaken. Not to mention that the President whom he insults carried the “9th CD” by almost 20 points both times. Whoever wins the GOP Primary will need a ton of pro-Obama voters if he is to come close to defeating Mr. Keating. I do not see how Mr. Alliegro’s sweeping dismissal helps his cause.
O’Malley does address the jobs issue that everybody tells pollsters is their top concern. His focus of national infrastructure repair is a wise one. His solution — use people on welfare — may not be so wise. Much road, bridge, and rail lineconstruction work is skilled and is often done by union labor. I doubt that unions will find O’Malley’s “workfare” suggestion a friendly one. Says he : “One way to get on the road to fixing the economy is a program to undertake the repairs necessary to upgrade our national infrastructure. Roads and bridges in this country, and even right here in this district, are crumbling before our very eyes. They have been mostly ignored for too long and I have a plan to reverse that trend and a by-product would be an economic stimulus that actually works. Using a system of workfare, people on welfare will receive government assistance in return for their labor on public works projects i.e. bridges, roads, dams, highways The by-product will be a real economic stimulus.This project will include non welfare recipients and will require the development of additional well paying jobs both in the district and nationwide. It is a win-win and a solution to an issue. This would get people off the rolls of the un-employed and get our roads and bridges fixed! It worked after the Great Depression.”
That said, Mr. Alliegro’s “Jobs” discussion, on his campaign website, insists that taxes and government regulations are the problem. This sounds tiresomely familiar. Alliegro also ( 1 ) opposes the Common Core Curriculum that the nation’s 50 governors adopted 20 years ago in order to assure that every child, no matter her zip code, graduated with the same basic knowledge vital to securing real employment ( 2 ) opposes women’s reproductive choice and ( 3 ) voices the gun absolutists’ view that the Second Amendment gives individuals an unlimitable right to carry loaded weapons wherever and whenever they choose.
Lastly, Alliegro opposes the 1954 “Johnson Amendment whereby organizations seeking tax-exempt status cannot engage in political campaigns on behalf of a particular candidate. Most of you may not know the “Johnson Amendment.” It is the basis of the now fully accepted notion that one cannot enjoy exemption from the taxes we all must pay and then use that exempt money to support a politician. Despite the huge exceptions enabled by the Citizens United decision, the Johnson Amendment prevents campaign organizations from abusing their protected income. Mr. Alliegro’s opposition on this matter alone would be sufficient reason to reject his candidacy.
O’Malley also lists as a key issue support for Israel. Unfortunately, his Israel policy is instead an Iran policy : “The Iran nuclear deal is just horrible. According to GovTrack.us 2015 report card, the incumbent voted in favor of the deal where we get nothing and they get everything they want, including a path to nuclear weapons.”
Support for Israel is certainly a significant foreign policy obligation. It may interest O’Malley to know that Israeli intelligence and military leaders say that Iran is not an existential threat to Israel (of course it isn’t. the mullahs know very well would happen were they to attempt all out war on Israel); but the nation’s internal divisions, say these experts, are existential indeed. One Israeli intelligence chief only recently opined that the nation is so divided it verges on civil war. A diligent perusal of Israeli media reports over the past two years supports this view. The Netanyahu government is marginalizing Israeli Arabs; pursuing an entirely colonialist settlement policy in the West bank; and legitimizing an ultra-Orthodox Judaism not much different from Saudi Wah’habism or Iran’s Guardian Council.
So much for the two candidates’ pluses or minuses. John Chapman, who won the 2014 GOP primary, lost to Congressman Keating by ten (10) points in a very good GOP year. This time will be anything but a good GOP year. The winner of Thursday’s primary might easily lose by 20 points. In which case, what is the point ? Just this : the GOP needs badly to recover its competence, its policy realism, its recognition of who are the voters and who will soon be voters. It needs not to disparage the President but to explain what it might do better, as well as congratulate Obama on what he has succeeded at. A political party cannot move forward, or free itself from self imposed shackles, if it disputes everything the other party does or says. No party gets it right all the time, nor wrong. Congratulate the right, and you win some legitimacy for criticizing the wrong.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere