In Massachusetts, like throughout America, politics has become predictable, frustrating, and uninspiring. Most of us now can predict what a Democratic or Republican politician’s position on a subject will be simply based on whether they have a “D” or an “R” next to their name. At a time when we face serious problems and challenges, we need better. We need to change more than piecemeal bits of outdated policies. We must change the entire mindset.
Like our founders before us, we need a movement, and candidates for office, who will spend the time to really think and learn about issues, and engage the public in explaining what they want to do, and why – instead of poll-tested sound bites. We need leaders who will treat voters like adults. Leaders who are willing to face the reality that much of what we’ve been trying to do to solve growing problems in our state isn’t working.
It’s time to put aside the tired, cynical ”Left-versus-Right” debates and start anew. It’s time to bring to our political process people who have the humility to understand that real progress takes time, a clear sense of direction, and the involvement of everyone with a stake in making our state a better place.
It will take not only legislative leaders, but community activists, cutting-edge scholars, and regular people who want to see Massachusetts set off in a brave new direction.
We need to stop what doesn’t work and start doing what does. This sounds simple, but for decades now leaders have not been held accountable enough to ensure this pragmatic thinking and direction.
When it comes to actual solutions, we need to be compelling, real and bold.
This is what the United Independent Party is all about.
A New Politics
Our politics has reached a point where current leaders decide they want to pursue a particular goal, propose a massive, ideologically driven solution, and then demand support for their plans. Whether it’s questions of war and healthcare at the national level, or now transportation spending at the state level, the game plan increasingly seems to be “Do it my way, or it means you don’t care about building a better future.”
It’s a cheap trick, and one that too often ignores the needs and voices of citizens. While it may lead to short-term “wins,” it breeds deep resentment for a government that treats voters almost as if they were an annoyance, a set of interest groups to be temporarily placated or manipulated.
Elected officials have a critical role to play in setting priorities for our state and our nation, but voters want to be – and are entitled to be – treated like the tax-paying adults they are. It’s time for a politics based on respect for and clear communication with voters. We’ve all had enough name-calling, tired clichés, and political games. It’s time for a new political outlook, voice and plan. This “new politics” has the power to make all the difference.
What We Stand For
The hard-won social freedoms we enjoy in Massachusetts and women’s rights over their own bodies should not be up for political debate.
Instead, we must recognize that, in spite of the law and the tremendous progress we have made, there are still too many disparities in how people are treated in our state. Discrimination still exists on the basis of race, gender, LGBT, disability, ethnicity, religion, age, and health. This should not be happening, not in our state.
Fiscally Sensible Solutions
A fiscally pragmatic approach to our state’s finances is not about the tired debate of “big versus small government.” It’s about bringing an entirely new, fresh approach to the whole problem.
We call for new leadership and citizen involvement, capable of bringing together the world’s leading experts in economic development, energy, pensions, education, healthcare, social programs, transportation and all of our other priorities that can start to get Massachusetts back onto firm – and sane – fiscal footing. We must pay for the government we decide we want, and clearly communicate with citizens not only how and where their precious tax dollars entrusted to the state are being spent, but why.
The leading industries of the 21st and 22nd centuries are coming into focus. In healthcare, energy, specialty manufacturing, and higher education Massachusetts has a head start. But no advantage is permanent.
One of our state’s top priorities must be to do whatever it can to make Massachusetts one of the best places in America – and the world – in which to do business. A related economic priority must be to create new jobs, thereby enabling our communities to grow and thrive, help people rise from poverty, and in the process create new revenue for the government. If the number of jobs in Massachusetts grows by just one percent, that would translate into tens of thousands of new people entering the workforce. These workers then would be better equipped to take care of their families, send their kids to college, save for retirement, and actively contribute to our state economy.
There are good, reliable data on what works in creating a good education, even under difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, we’re not doing enough to bring this data and these proven approaches into our schools.
We tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach to education, but instead, we need to be asking and addressing the most central, important questions: Are kids graduating? Do they know how to read, and do math? Are they motivated and encouraged? Are they ready to be employed, or to go to college? Are class sizes too big? Are older school buildings in states of disrepair? Do teachers have the tools they need to be as successful as they can be? The answers very likely will differ based on community, and our educational policy needs to not only recognize this fact, but make it much more of the centerpiece of our educational agenda.
We live in one of the wealthiest states in the nation, yet each year, more and more of our infrastructure is crumbling.
Our state is in crippling debt, much of which can be attributed to rampant mismanagement. For decades, our leadership has kicked the can down the road, and now, when problems absolutely need to be addressed, our government demands public support for quickly introduced multibillion-dollar projects without engaging voters. This is not the kind of leadership we need on these increasingly critical issues, so central to our day-to-day lives. Before building anything else that is new, our next goal must be to build a broad public consensus on our next transportation projects.
Energy costs in Massachusetts are too high, and our power infrastructure is too fragile. This hurts consumers and businesses alike. We can do better, and need to move aggressively to make wind and solar energy an important part of the Massachusetts power landscape.
By wisely investing in these technologies we can not only build a more efficient, more reliable, cheaper power infrastructure, but in the process also create the industries and jobs that will be such a major component of our economy in Massachusetts in the 21st century. We absolutely must invest to make our energy infrastructure much stronger and resilient. Coupled with the need to create smart grid technology, we must invest in localized, small-scale power generation, so that homes and businesses are not shut down for weeks at a time by a strong storm, as occurred in 2012 throughout so much of New York and New Jersey.
We don’t want to live in what are in effect gated communities where we turn a blind eye to the very real challenges faced by families and individuals in need of help. But the programs that have been set up over the past 50 years to fix these problems were crafted during times and circumstances radically different from what people face today.
We must be brave enough to ask the fundamental questions: Are our programs working? What do the innovations and research of the last decades tell us about what makes a real, meaningful difference in the lives of people and communities in underprivileged areas? Massachusetts, home to some of the nation’s most cutting-edge work on how to take what we know works and bring it to communities in need, has the opportunity to take the visionary lead on this front. Led by private sector players, these successful initiatives must become an increasingly important part of “social innovation,” maximizing the savvy know-how that helps communities break out of poverty cycles.