WHILE ADS for the four Democratic candidates for US Senate have dominated the airwaves in recent weeks, it’s a good sign for two-party politics in Massachusetts that Republicans, too, have a contested primary Dec. 8. In this two-candidate race, the clear choice is Scott Brown.
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, gives articulate voice to conservatives’ misgivings about a Democratic Congress. As a supporter of the landmark Massachusetts health reform plan, for instance, he argues that some provisions of health care bills now under consideration in Congress could end up working against the system this state has built.
He follows the national Republican line on policies from cap-and-trade climate change legislation (he opposes it) to same-sex marriage (ditto) to how to handle Afghanistan (Brown favors sending all the additional troops that General Stanley McChrystal has requested). While Brown promises that he would be an independent voice in Washington, he falls well to the right of the moderate Yankee Republican tradition, once upheld in the Senate by Massachusetts’ Ed Brooke, Connecticut’s Lowell Weicker, and Rhode Island’s John and Lincoln Chafee. But Brown deserves a hearing.
His rival in the primary is Jack E. Robinson III, a lawyer who once was the party’s nominee against the late Edward Kennedy and has also run unsuccessfully for secretary of state and for Congress. Robinson hopes to bring back the GOP progressive tradition of Theodore Roosevelt. It’s a worthy goal, but some of Robinson’s policy proposals, such as staging a Paris peace conference to negotiate with the Taliban, are unrealistic. It’s Brown who can best engage the Democratic primary winner in a vigorous debate about ideas.