Election 2012: Recommendations to Voters


Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

This page endorsed President Obama in 2008. It was a mistake.

We didn’t know Barack Obama well four years ago. What we did know didn’t add up to much — no management, political, or leadership experience, and very young. And, there was an expressed but not demonstrated determination to cooperate with others to solve the mighty problems the nation faced. Still, there was brilliance as well as a strangeness in Mr. Obama that attracted voters who, as Democrats and later as voters of both parties, might have served themselves better by choosing the tested, mature, proven political commodity, Hillary Clinton. Besides, the clumsiness and poor judgment of John McCain made Mr. Obama look good.

We know Barack Obama better now. He is not what we imagined. He is a politician uncomfortable in the political business, a man of unwavering progressive convictions that are deeply at odds with the Founders’ principles, as enshrined in the Constitution. That document and the Declaration protected the rights, economic and otherwise, that inhered in men and women and that were not bestowed by government, nor could they be withdrawn. Indeed, the goal was to constrain government, not free it from all restraint. Mr. Obama sees things differently, and in pursuit of his view, he has been relentlessly willing to pit Americans against their fellows: majority against minorities, men against women, rich against the middle class and the poor. It’s no way to be leader.

Mitt Romney is a smart, decent man with an explicit understanding that the predicate for American success is a successful, growing American economy, accessible and enriching to all. That means reordering spending, taxation, and regulation, so that following generations are free to prosper, not bent beneath the profligate legacy of trillions in debt. He is a dependable moderate, a pragmatist, and a grownup, whose first order of business — as every bit of evidence makes clear — will be to cut through the hopeless partisan snarl in Washington.

Voters have heartfelt agendas of their own. They measure candidates against a personal hierarchy of issues. One cannot guess the metric that this voter or that one will use to make his or her selection. But, if getting things done, addressing debt, deficits, and the economy first, and doing so in ways that search for solutions both sides and the many interest groups can support is at the top of your list — Mr. Romney is the recommendation here.

Senator Scott Brown

How Scott Brown got to be the Republican Senator from Massachusetts is a political miracle, given the one-party complexion of government in the Bay State. But, voters like him. He has a genuine Massachusetts pedigree, a regular guy pedigree, and a dependable and palpable commitment to his Massachusetts constituents. Selectman, state legislator, now Senator, Mr. Brown has few detractors at home or in Washington, and he’s recognized as someone who’s more interested in solving a problem than being one. Mr. Brown’s term has featured responsiveness to the needs of the state, a moderate stance on national issues, and a willingness to work across the aisle to get badly needed work done. Along with Democrat Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whom he replaced in the Congress, Senator Brown is a son of Massachusetts, whose record in his first term has earned him a second.

Representative William Keating

William Keating, a former prosecutor, is a Democrat with solid party credentials. But, his chief interests have little to do with winning partisan battles. He has been attentive to 9th District issues, and his profile in Washington is far less partisan and divisive than that of his predecessor. Once again, the choice to reelect William Keating is an endorsement of moderation and a recognition that the behavior of Congress, especially the leadership on both sides, has crippled the institution that was created to do the nation’s business and, together with the feckless lack of leadership in the White House, helped to create a dangerous economic mess, which it will not address and correct.

Representatives like Mr. Keating are willing to do better and press their leaders to do better also. The roll, post-election, of legislators like William Keating will be critical to the change of course the country badly needs.

Martha’s Vineyard Commission Members

Fourteen candidates, including seven new, five incumbents, and two previous appointees, are vying for nine open seats on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC).

The goal here is to choose fresh, reasonable perspectives, which are badly needed.

Joshua Seth Goldstein, the youngest candidate at age 33, is the manager of his family’s business, the Mansion House Inn. He is smart and business minded. He deserves your vote.

James T. Miller is the environmental coordinator for the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah and a volunteer on the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation board. He has been a transportation planner for the MVC and has identified ways in which the MVC’s review practices might be streamlined.

David F. Willoughby is a carpenter and co-owner of Cricket and Rainman Builders. After serving on Tisbury’s finance and advisory committee for seven years, he thought adding a tradesman’s view might improve the MVC.

Joseph Gordon Jims, a plumber from Oak Bluffs, will also make a sensible contribution to MVC decision-making. Mr. Jims is a self-employed tradesman who has lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 17 years. He serves on the Oak Bluffs school advisory council. “I am running for the MVC because there needs to be a change of the guard,” he wrote. He’s right.

Among incumbents, this page endorses Christina Brown of Edgartown, Erik Hammarlund of West Tisbury, and E. Douglas Sederholm of Chilmark, solid, thoughtful commission members who seem willing to strike a balance between the need for growth and change and the need to shepherd that change with modest and calibrated rules. Fred Hancock and Camille Rose, the former Aquinnah selectman, now serve on the MVC as selectmen appointees, so they are incumbents. But they want elected positions. They should have them.

Brown, Hammarlund, Sederholm, Hancock, Rose, Goldstein, Miller, Willoughby, Jims. Nine good choices.

Yes on Question One

Independent auto repair shops — the sort we have on Martha’s Vineyard — ought to have the information and tools they need to fix even the very newest cars. The terms on which the information is made available are not dictated in the law proposed in this question, but the technical materials must be available to owners and repair shops. Massachusetts has passed a law negotiated between the interest groups at war over this issue. That law is set to take effect on November 6. It will moot the ballot question of the same date. If the ballot initiative is successful, the legislature will need to reconcile the new law with the law sought by ballot initiative.

No on Question Two

The proposed law would allow a physician in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally ill patient, to end that person’s life. But, the law as written is complicated and severely flawed. The complications are not safeguards, and the lack of medical supervision envisioned in this law makes it dangerous and loosely controlled. Many of the resources for palliative care and for psychiatric counseling — for instance, for patients suffering from depression — are neglected in the law’s structure. Plus, the threshold requirement for legal permission is a six-month life expectancy, although the accuracy of such a prognosis is doubtful. Better medical and palliative care for the terminally ill would be the genuinely thoughtful course. There may be a sound protocol for legally sanctioned suicide, but this proposed law isn’t it. Reject Question Two.

No on Question Three

Compassion for those in ill health and pain is admirable, but this proposed legislation is a fraud. If approved it will help very few and create an on-ramp to marijuana use for many. The law would allow the cultivation of 60-day supplies of marijuana by anyone with a medical certification from a physician, and it would allow anyone over 21 to operate a dispensary — and as many as 35 would be permitted in the state –— as long as customers had medical certifications that they had an unspecified debilitating condition.

This law is a recipe for heightened marijuana abuse and dependency rates among young people, as has been the case in other states with similar laws. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Cancer Society all oppose the use of marijuana as medicine. The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children’s Hospital Boston oppose Question Three, and voters here should too.

No on nonbinding Questions Four and Five

The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from making laws that would abridge the rights of people — and under settled law, the rights of corporations of people — to petition the government. That’s why you can march on your Senator’s office, the Congress, or the White House, alone or in company with like-minded others. That’s why Occupy Wall Street can occupy Wall Street and demand changes in laws governing banking and investment. That’s why lobbyists pester Congressmen and the White House about environmental matters, fracking rules, oil subsidies, clean air standards, organic foods labeling, and everything else. It’s why individuals, unions, and corporations can spend money to influence legislation and elect political leaders. Corporations are people, in the same way unions are people. Vote no on Four and Five.