By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher
Peabody Democrats from Lynnfield to Lake Street came to realize earlier today that the sun did indeed come up on this frosty cold, un-spring-like morning.
But while sticking with this celestial theme, what we should have been thinking about was this lesson from Bill Shakespeare:
“The fault, dear Democrats, is not in our stars … but in ourselves.”
Leah Cole, Peabody’s State Rep
Before I go any further, I want to congratulate Peabody’s new State Rep, Republican Leah Cole, and urge all of my Democratic colleagues to do themselves a favor today and STOP with the excuses. Cole won fairly, and if you look at the campaign she ran, you immediately come to the conclusion that both Beverley Griffin Dunne and David Gravel likely never saw this coming.
The Dunne and Gravel campaign teams were solid, and worked their tails off throughout the weeks leading up to this special election. But all of us underestimated and mis-calculated when it came to Ms. Cole.
All we saw, and I’m as guilty as anyone else, was a 24-year-old, first-time candidate with zero name recognition on Day 1, and all we thought was … “this is a kid with no chance.”
What didn’t we see?
Well, we didn’t see that she was backed by an aggressive, very experienced, and battle-tested statewide professional political organization. Ron Paul’s Liberty Movement showed once again that it can not only organize, but also infuse a candidate with the Mother’s Milk of Politics: Lots and lots of cash. They were also able to keep her focused on the populist message that government takes too much from us, wastes our money, and is now asking for even more from Peabody’s working classes.
Although I’m sure the mainstream Mass. GOP is crowing this morning about winning a seat which the Dems have held for decades, they don’t deserve the credit and still have no credible, grassroots process for building a “farm team.” This victory belongs to the sons and daughters of the Liberty Movement, who are sort of like the Tea Party, only with younger members and fewer far right zealots.
Oh sure, there is a lot of evidence that leads to the conclusion that had Mr. Gravel not been in the race as an unenrolled candidate, Ms. Dunne would have won this seat back for the Democrats. But he was in, and as Democrats shouldn’t we have all known that it would split our vote? Shouldn’t we have seen more unity and support among Dems behind our only Democratic candidate in this race, especially from some of those who call themselves Peabody Democratic Party leaders?
For weeks, all I heard was speculation on who Cole would hurt more yesterday, Dunne or Gravel. Did anyone really ever stop to consider how much Dunne and Gravel would hurt each other?
But once again, the fault, dear Democrats, is not in Dave Gravel … it’s in ourselves.
Seventy-three votes was the difference. As a party couldn’t we have united enough to find 74 more votes?
Maybe. But this should also be a moment of clarity for us. If you can learn from it, sometimes losing isn’t a bad thing.
It’s time for us to realize that we need to get back to the principles that made fiscally conservative working class people in a city like Peabody embrace Democrats like our late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis?
Why have Peabody people suddenly begun turning on us Democrats, and voting for the Scott Browns, Charlie Bakers, and Leah Coles?
Our party has swung too far to the fringe, and people who work for a living are tired of losing more of their paychecks to support tax increases that feed a wasteful, bloated state government. By the way, I’m not talking about Beverley Griffin Dunne or Dave Gravel here. I’m talking about Democrats such as the State Rep from western Mass., who yesterday told me she felt that Governor Deval Patrick’s bloated budget proposal and tax increase don’t go far enough.
Both Dunne and Gravel stated during the campaign that they opposed the Governor’s tax increase. But it didn’t matter, the big-spending stench surrounded them just enough to have people pass on connecting the line next to their name. Guilt simply by association, perhaps.
As Peabody Democrats, it’s time that we adopted a message that we are the party that helps people who need help, but part of that responsibility includes ensuring that struggling working class people aren’t smothered by onerous tax increases designed to fund wasteful spending.
Isn’t it possible as a Democrat to be socially moderate or progressive while at the same time be fiscally conservative? Most people, after all, want to be helped, but not hurt by government.
Aren’t those the type of principles under which Joyce Spilliotis operated?
And isn’t that what the voters of Peabody told us loud and clear yesterday?
Message sent, for sure. But what still remains is, as Democrats, what are we going to do about it?