Senator Scott Brown of the Massachusetts State Senate and Representative Karyn Polito of the Massachusetts House of Representatives were special guests at the College Republicans’ first meeting of the year this past Tuesday. Ninety-five members of the club were privileged to hear two of Massachusetts’ most influential elected officials sound off on issues like healthcare, the upcoming gubernatorial election in Massachusetts, our country’s fiscal crisis, and Senator Brown’s decision to run for the US Senate to fill Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat.
When introduced as the man who decided to undertake a massive Senatorial race for Senator Kennedy’s open seat, Brown rolled his eyes in feigned exasperation. He continued to joke that he was “nuts” for wanting to take on the challenge and headache that running for Senate entails, but more seriously contended that his determination to “lead by example” is his motivation to run. Senator Brown feels that leading by a good example is lacking in government today, and he feels his campaign is fueled by the desire to provide his example and ideals to the American public.
Senator Brown then went on to describe his belief that Conservatism is a “big tent,” in which all levels of conservative may fall. As a conservative, Senator Brown believes in good, efficient government, controlling illegal immigration, and protecting the environment – ideals that he feels are universal goals for the country. He went on to say, “I’m a Republican, and I love the environment. Why does the environment have to be a liberal issue?”
He voiced his opinion on President Obama’s healthcare proposal, believing that a government or public option would essentially “dumb down” the American healthcare system and make healthcare professionals less competitive.
Regarding the race, Brown said it would be “me against the machine. I’ll be outspent and outlobbied. But I’m doing it because there’s a real need for balance, fiscal responsibility, and social conscience in government.” Senator Brown feels that a race centered on a return to the issues at hand, and one that is led honestly, will be successful.
Marie-Claire Bartmess, a sophomore member of the College Republicans, felt that “Senator Brown was good at getting people excited – he made me want to help with his campaign!” Matthew Vigliotta, treasurer of the College Republicans, was very happy to have Senator Brown and Representative Polito at the first meeting, saying, “Scott Brown is an intelligent and down-to-earth speaker and having him speak at our meeting was inspiring. It’s easy to see why he is so popular here in Massachusetts.”
Earlier in the evening, Representative Polito spoke first, exuding excitement about the number of young people involved in politics at Boston College. As a Boston College grad in the class of 1988, she admits to remembering no more than five Republicans among her circle of friends, and was thrilled to see the College Republicans so large in number.
Her tone then immediately changed as she expressed her dismay at being one of only sixteen Republican members of the House of Representatives in Massachusetts, as opposed to 144 Democratic members. Most would be disheartened to be in her position, but Polito is clearly an optimist. This is soon proved by her commitment to the idea that the Republicans have the opportunity right now to turn the tide and increase their numbers in the next election. She feels that the people of Massachusetts and the rest of the country are disappointed with the corruption and lies that pervade Democratic leaders, and would jump at the chance to elect Republican leadership. She maintains this optimism by maintaining her sense of duty to the people, feeling that “if [she] quits, what then?” She explains that a sense of duty keeps her in the legislature.
She laments the fact that the Democratic Party in Massachusetts is extremely corrupt, as three within the system have been indicted recently. Representative Polito attributes this corruption to the concentration of power at the top, with the most influential officials possessing too much authority over others who are essentially minions.
She later told of the electronic voting in the Massachusetts House of Representatives that features lights on the wall showing which stance each member took on the issue. Polito explains that the Republicans submit their votes in a timely fashion, the Democratic speaker then submits his vote, and then the rest of the Democrats mimic the speaker’s vote. Representative Polito ended by saying, “I can sleep well at night; I don’t wait for anyone’s light to tell me how to vote.”
The Boston College Republicans are featuring many other events throughout the upcoming year. On September 22, 2009 Professor Harold Peterson will speak about the economic bailout and on October 6 they will be debating the College Democrats.