Left In Lowell

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January 5, 2013

Thoughts on the Senate Special Election

by at 11:35 am.

I know, I know, can’t we at least enjoy a few days off between major statewide elections, right? But too bad. Dems, are you ready? I think I am.

The sort-of crowning of Rep. Ed Markey has irked not a few grassroots types, I’m sure. Personally, I’d like a half-decent primary too, it does some good things, like increase the scope of the debate, but especially, gets the grassroots woken up and organized early enough to do some good - since a special election has such a short timeframe. One would hope that the engine that elected Elizabeth Warren (like, perhaps, Elizabeth herself) comes forth to inspire us to pick up the work again, once we’ve gone through the primary (hint, hint, Senator Warren!). And I’m always looking to repeat the MA-05 special election primary to replace Meehan, which is my gold standard for a great, feisty, interesting primary, but which lacks the circular firing squad we sometimes see (*coughChrisDohertycough*).

I’ll be honest, there are probably candidates I could love more than Ed Markey, just on the grassroots-outsider-tough fighter sort of feel. But. But. I love Ed Markey’s environmental record, and his roughing up of the oil companies, especially BP after the horrific oil spill. I feel like everyone else sort of have given them a pass, though given the ferocity of their continuing feel-good marketing campaign I think they still feel damaged (good. and you aren’t convincing ME). He has fought hard to try and get a carbon tax on oil/coal/gas, one key component holding renewable energy back (since it has to compete with a giant, subsidized, established industry).

If there is a more important issue than our economy and the flagrancy of the financial sector which Elizabeth Warren has spent so long fighting against, it’s the environment. Specifically, global climate change. Every decade has been warmer than the last, and we’re no longer talking about trying to avoid the tipping point. We’re talking about just how far past the tipping point we’re going to go. This is disaster. This is destruction of our entire human civilization. And without addressing both the inevitable (now) outcomes of climate change, and finding a way SOON to cease making it worse, the financial meltdown is gonna look like a boom economy compared to where we will end up.

The conservatives love to say, but the earth has fluctuated climate in the past. Yes. It has. Usually a lot more minor and a lot more slower, but it has cooled/warmed in a cycle going back to the dinosaurs. But also, giant empires have fallen because of much smaller climate change. (Hell, the dinosaurs died out due to climate change.) Picture a world in which half its population has to flee into other half’s populated areas to survive terrible weather extremes or the inability to grow crops where once crops flourished, or the masses who have always lived on the coast having to flee inland. Do you think we could take in a good portion of the Mexican population and keep our country intact? Do you think we can let half of Mexico’s population starve to death and keep our country intact? Can Canada double its population with environmental refugees from the US and remain a prosperous country? This is what we are facing if we don’t turn back now. I’m not exaggerating, that’s actually the middle-level scenario science models are displaying. The worst case is…you don’t want to know.

There are consequences in turning our planet’s climate back millions of years to much higher average temperatures. By burning the carbon locked in the earth at the time of dinosaurs, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Except instead of taking millions or tens of millions of years to do it, we’re doing it in a couple hundred. Trees can’t migrate in a decade or two. Populations of animals and, yes, people, can’t just pick up that quickly and rebalance the ecology in what amounts to seconds in the geological scale.

If Ed Markey becomes our standard bearer, either before the primary or after it, I think I’d be fine with that. In fact I’d be more than fine with it. I’d be pretty damn happy, and ready to get to work.

8 Responses to “Thoughts on the Senate Special Election”

  1. Paul@01852 Says:

    I’ve known Ed Markey since he was in high school and have admired his environmental work from slightly afar. My admiration carried so far that the very first campaign I worked for was his brother John’s run for 5th Congressional District way back in the 70’s (1976 or ‘78–not quite sure which). I’ve already signed up for his mailing list and am just waiting word where I can help best. My political resume includes volunteer photographer, accomplished phone-banker, and street corner sign-holder extraordinaire! Go Ed!

  2. Marie sweeney Says:

    John Markey was a declared candidate in the 5thCD race in 1978… he withdrew… there were many candidates in that race locally (Ray Rourke, etc) and in the Merrimack Valley. The Dem nomination and the election was won by Lawrence native Jim Shannon - I was privileged to work pt in his Lowell District office during his 6 years in office. Marty Meehan and Paul Sheehy were also his staff. Ed Markey was elected to Congress in 1976 (might have been a special since Congressman McDonald died in office). For a decade in the 80s - the Town of Tewksbury was redistricted into the 7thCD to be represented by Double-Eagle Ed Markey… so many in our area know him but he’d need to spend some time in Lowell/Greater Lowell and the MV.

  3. Lynne Says:

    Marie you are a font of information! :)

  4. Paul@01852 Says:

    As I recall John Markey did not withdraw from that race. I distinctly recall sitting in his campaign HQ the night of the election waiting for results. And as you correctly stated Jim Shannon won. As I recall Markey was 3rd or 4th. Maybe Dick (the fount of Lowell election knowledge!) has official results.

  5. Jack Says:

    If Marie is a font of information, I’ll venture to say she is Edwardian Script ITC. ;v)

  6. Marie sweeney Says:

    Paul - My memory is faulty about Markey… (But he did withdraw from something… I need to do some research). There was a time when I could account for nearly all those 1000+ Shannon votes in Lowell… but as you can see the memory fades! BTW - Hatem ran again in the 1980 primary. It was a tough race where some of us caught the brunt of some very nasty name-calling.

    Here are Dick’s stats:
    Tsongas’s run for the Senate left the Fifth Congressional District without an incumbent. (Lowell votes) Some well-known names appeared amongst the candidates to succeed Tsongas:
    1.James Shannon of Lawrence – 18,529 – (1076)
    2.Ray Rourke of Lowell – 17,743 – (9121)
    3.Bob Hatem of Lowell – 16,359 – (4118)
    4.John Markey of Lawrence – 14,046 – (1291)
    5.Mike McLaughlin of Lowell – 12,644 – (2757)
    6.Ronald Burba of Lawrence – 3524 – (242)

  7. Marie sweeney Says:

    A few more stats from Dick Howe on that 1978 5CD race:
    “In the Republican Primary, John Buckley of Lawrence defeated Nick Rizzo of Andover, 11,772 to 9881. I
    In the general election, Shannon defeated Buckley, 90,256 to 48,685 with Independent Jay Gaffney of Tewksbury receiving 33,835 votes.”

    As you can see, it was a very hot contest in the Merrimack Valley. It certainly got me into regional/national politics in a way I never imagined! It was actually life-changing…

  8. joe from Lowell Says:

    How’s this climate change scenario grab you, Lynne: most of the arable land in China turns to desert, but a whole bunch of Siberia becomes a good climate for farming, so half a billion Chinese people move into Russia. I’m sure that will be smooth and painless.

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