By a happy Massachusetts native
“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections”, wrote Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France.
New England has always been a region of “little platoons”, where people proudly retain their local customs and accents. It’s not a place you can just move to and suddenly “belong” (as my California-born wife can attest). You have to put your time in here before you can become a bona fide New Englander. That is something we both love about New England—and it is also one of the many things our elites can’t stand about it.
During his 1831 visit to America, Alexis de Tocqueville was the most impressed with New England. It was in New England’s “little platoons” that de Tocqueville found the American spirit of self-reliance and volunteerism to be the strongest and most admirable.
Unfortunately, New England—and Massachusetts in particular—has also produced an elite culture, a class of people who are largely the product of the region’s many prestigious universities and prep schools.
In recent decades, however, there has been a growing antagonism between everyday New Englanders and the post-American elites who claim to represent them. Granted, we rarely read about it in the press, but the tension is definitely there. Just ask the good people of Lewiston, Maine and Nashua, New Hampshire who never voted to have Somali Bantu refugees forced into their neighborhoods at their own expense.
In my opinion, and I travel extensively though New England, the forced introduction of refugees into New England communities whose only crime was being too white and well-functioning has jolted the political awareness of people here more than any other public policy trend in my lifetime.
In a recent interview, Peter Brimelow said that people are drawn to VDARE.com because they feel especially discouraged about the way their country and culture are being forcibly dismantled, “and they feel also that something is being done to them”. That is certainly the way people feel in places like East Boston, which was until recently a charming neighborhood with great Italian restaurants, but has been transformed by Salvadoran immigrants and turned into a stronghold of the MS-13.
It is this sense of helplessness and frustration that has drawn many people together to support Scott Brown. I can’t tell you how many Scott Brown signs I’ve seen in places I would never expect to vote Republican—even handmade “Vote for Brown” signs made out of plastic, wood, and cardboard. The farther you go from Boston, the more Brown signs you see.
Prior to this election, the closest thing I have ever seen to this level of voter enthusiasm was Mitt Romney’s 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy. Back then, vast numbers of Massachusetts voters were enormously enthusiastic about the chance to finally unseat Kennedy. Unfortunately, as I wrote in my VDARE.com obituary for Ted Kennedy, Mitt Romney ran a poor campaign. He also came across as a polished out-of-town CEO, which hampered his ability to connect to voters. But Scott Brown is a local guy who comes across like someone you might know. He retains his regional accent and mannerisms. He is married with kids and serves in the National Guard. In other words, he is not your typical senator, and that’s a big reason why people like him-and dislike him. “We are running against the machine” Scott Brown and his supporters keep saying, a reference to the Democratic Party Establishment that has had a stranglehold over Massachusetts for generations.
For example: One piece of the Massachusetts machine who excelled at pretending he was “one of us” was former Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas “Tip” O’Neill. “All politics is local” was Tip O’Neill’s famous phrase. And for years now many Democrats, especially in Massachusetts, have tried to ride the strength of this feel-good slogan into elected office, repeating it ad nauseam. The problem is that most people actually believe that Tip O’Neill was giving advice on how to govern. Actually, it was only advice on how to campaign.
In 1936, Tip O’Neill ran for the Cambridge City Council. He campaigned everywhere except in the neighborhood where he was born and raised simply because he assumed that he already had those votes in the bag. After O’Neill lost the race, he reviewed the vote totals by precinct and discovered that he had actually done worse in his own neighborhood. “People like to be asked,” a neighbor explained to him. O’Neill never made that mistake again. And he never lost another race.
When it came to governing, however, Tip O’Neill believed that all politics was really national, or rather, international. O’Neill cared little about the people in his own congressional district, as is clear from his life-long support for Open Borders. “We have committed our nation to the preservation of freedom for all peoples of the world; not only those of Northern Europe” he loftily told the House of Representatives during the debate over the 1965 Immigration Act.
In 1983, Speaker O’Neill continued to defend America’s open borders immigration policy, claiming that “The pluralistic society which has resulted from the amalgamation of so many cultures has enriched the lives of all Americans and has strengthened our national character.” But when O’Neill resigned from office in 1985, he immediately sold his Cambridge home and moved to a racially homogeneous Cape Cod village—Harwich Port, MA, six-tenths of one percent black, nine-tenths of one percent Hispanic. So much for being a local guy (with an “enriched” life).
Martha Coakley’s biggest mistake was that she ignored Tip’s advice and did not ask for our votes. In fact, Coakley took a week-long vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so sure was she of being elected senator. While Martha Coakley was on vacation, Scott Brown was driving his now-famous truck across the state. In freezing-cold temperatures, he stood on street corners and in front of supermarkets. Brown shook hands, he listened to voters, and asked for their support.
One of Martha Coakley’s more revealing moments was when a reporter asked her why she wasn’t spending more time on the stump like Scott Brown. “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?” Coakley sneered, referring to a recent Brown ad that showed him talking to voters outside Fenway Park. Standing outside in the cold is not unusual for people around here. Most of us do it every day.
Michael Kinsley defined a gaffe as the moment when a politician inadvertently tells the truth. Perhaps Martha Coakley’s most revealing gaffe was when she told a radio host that former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling was a “Yankees fan.” The Schilling remark vividly illustrates that Martha Coakley is really not a member of one of the New England’s little platoons, but a post-American elite who wishes only to preside over them. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can be both a diehard Red Sox fan and a “citizen of the world”. You will not find people like Martha Coakley or Ted Kennedy cheering on the local high school team, attending the church fair, riding the subway, or having coffee at the local diner. They look down on local customs as bourgeois.
Some Republican elites, of course, are just as good at pretending to be one of the gang as Tip O‘Neill. For a time, George W. Bush convinced millions that he was regular Texan who loved Jesus and baseball. In reality, Bush was actually a fan of Hispanicizing the game, attempting to turn baseball into the “international pastime”.
Last week, I wrongly predicted that Brown would lose the election after his last debate performance because of his stammering delivery, and reluctance to attack Martha Coakley, especially on immigration (where his position was actually quite good). However, Brown scored a knockout punch with the now-famous line: “With all due respect, it’s not the Kennedy’s seat. It’s the people’s seat.”
What people don’t seem to realize about this oft-quoted remark is that Brown did not direct it at Martha Coakley, but at the debate moderator, David Gergen—a permanent fixture of the political establishment, who clearly leaned toward Coakley. It was David Gergen [email him] who referred to the open Senate seat as “the Kennedy’s seat”. And he obviously did not enjoy being corrected. Our elites never do.
Another cog in the Massachusetts machine that is now slowing is the Open Borders Boston Globe, which has been lording over the commonwealth for more than a century. For weeks, The Boston Globe has been shrilly denouncing Scott Brown’s ascendancy, furious that the public is no longer listening to them when it comes to electing people to public office. Have you ever seen the look on someone’s face when they’re giving a public speech, and people suddenly start getting up and leaving the room? That has been the tone of the Boston Globe lately.
The Boston Globe is reportedly losing $1 million per week and has had to lay off much of its staff (although it still has a full-time immigration reporter). They have only themselves to blame for their declining influence.
Quietly, immigration has been no small factor in this election. I’ve talked to several workers in the Brown campaign in recent days and they all say that frustration with out-of-control immigration is a top voter concern. Brown used illegal immigration in his push-polling. And we have the testimony of liberal policy analyst Karen Dolan [Email her]that many of her Massachusetts female friends were supporting Brown, to her disgust, not merely because “he looks good naked” (in his celebrated 1982 Cosmopolitan centerfold) but because “they think [Coakley] wants to bus in immigrants take over their schools…They think she will take their tax dollars and give it to an "illegal alien" in Arizona for an abortion.”[ Scott Brown’s Body seduces. Take A Cold Shower, Huffington Post, January 19, 2010.]
And, over the last few weeks, I’ve also been asking lots of voters why they support Scott Brown. Significantly, they are not primarily motivated by popular issues like healthcare, taxes, or terrorism, important as these are. Rather, what motivates a great many Brown supporters is the preservation of their way of life—a way of life that has gradually been undermined by a political class that cares nothing for them. People love their little platoons. The Scott Brown phenomenon was really their opportunity to band together to defend and reclaim them.
Is this a great country or what?
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here