Americans say consistently that they are fed up with Congress and Washington.
They don’t like the vicious politics, the cronyism that rewards the politically connected at the expense of ordinary citizens, the craven refusal to tackle the issues that really matter even as the nation heads toward the fiscal brink.
Many are so fed up they no longer bother to vote.
And that will likely be the case again in next Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts to choose a successor to U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry. All the signs point to low voter turnout. Beyond the usual political alienation, it’s summer, schools are out and the Bruins have all of New England fixated on their run for a second Stanley Cup in three years.
But if you care for the direction the country is headed in, it would be a mistake to sit out this election.
Massachusetts voters have an opportunity to send a message that will be heard in the halls of Congress and around the country by choosing as their senator someone who is not part of the Washington establishment and who will challenge its partisan, dysfunctional culture.
The candidates are Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez.
Markey is a career politician who has spent 37 years in Congress with little to show for it except a record of lockstep party line voting. Washington is his real home, it’s where his heart is.
“You are Washington, D.C., and you own the national debt, Sir,” Gomez told Markey at one of their three spirited debates.
But this isn’t so much about Ed Markey, as it is about Gabriel Gomez.
Gomez is a political newcomer at age 47. That’s because he hasn’t spent his entire adult life running for office.
Instead, the son of Colombian immigrants to Los Angeles chose a career in the Navy and won appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at Annapolis. He served first as an aircraft carrier pilot, then became a Navy SEAL.