SOMETHING’S AFOOT IN THE BERKSHIRES. COULD IT BE POLITICAL MAGIC? JILL STEIN THINKS SO. MEANWHILE, SPERANZO’S “S.S. COWARDLY” TAKES ON MORE WATER.
THE PLANET had a private meeting with gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein (Green-Rainbow) at a hidden location cleverly designed as an exact replica of The Tavern at the Red Lion Inn. Stein was campaigning through Berkshire County today with 3rd Berkshire District candidate Mark Miller and 4th Berkshire hopeful Scott Laugenour. We met Stein and Langenour over coffee and tea … and me.
For the record, The Planet picked up the tab.
Stein canceled other campaign events in the state to be in Pittsfield and South County. She will be back tomorrow and Monday. We don’t need to draw anyone with functioning brain cells a map, do we? She’s here because she smells blood in the water, and Green-Rainbow is pouring much of what it has left into the 3rd and 4th district campaigns. Being around this political push, one senses a distinct rush, a combination of urgency and the smell of a win.
Up to now, disaffection on the part of the electorate has failed to substitute populism of any kind for bad, Big Party government. That may change on Tuesday.
Incumbent 3rd Berkshire rep Chris “No Show” Speranzo, who sneezed and wiped his gooey, germ-infested hands on the district’s electorate, finds himself at this late hour in command of the S.S. Cowardice, a ship of fools whose rats have been making haste to the exits. The S.S. Cowardice did what no one has yet done in recent local political history: Light a match to the rocket of a third party campaign. Speranzo boosted the inaugural political bid of Mark Miller into orbit. THE PLANET knows something about orbit.
‘Something’s Going on Here’
Miller capitalized on the opportunity of a lifetime the way Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics can find the open man on a fast break: with certainty and deadly accuracy. Miller has run a brilliant campaign, one not infected by a dime from Big Business, Big Unions, or Big Lobbyists. He has spoken convincingly on issues of vital concern to Joe and Jane Sixpack and their bedraggled middle-class counterparts, Joe and Mark Jane Kapanski.
People are noticing. Consequently, Speranzo’s listing ship is within the sights of Miller’s periscope. Miller is close to pulling off a massive political upset that, should it occur, will send shock waves throughout Berkshire County and the Commonwealth.
“Something’s going on here [in the Berkshires],” Stein said. “The Berkshire have become the tipping point for this election. Many people [out Boston way] have their eyes on what happens here.” She praised the campaigns of Miller and Scott Laugenour, running in the 4th against William “Smitty” Pignatelli, saying that her decision to spend precious, and fleeting, time here reflects the sense of the party that both have a chance on Tuesday, especially Miller.
‘A Surge of Support’ and ‘a Defining Moment’
“We’ve seen a surge of support, a defining moment,” Stein said. “With the credibility of [Miller and Langenour], people realize they don’t have to out up with what they’ve been given [by the two major parties]. She called Speranzo’s choice not to campaign “staggering, an affront to the democratic process and to voters. It’s the product of pure arrogance.”
Stein noted that Speranzo picked the wrong time to further anger the electorate: “People are under siege now by insider politics. They rightly feel that Beacon Hill has stopped listening to them. Their elected officials are listening to the lobbyists, the corporations, the pharmaceutical industry — anyone with deep pockets who can buy loyalty.”
Stein said the inherent anger of the electorate, coupled with Speranzo ducking two debates and all other public appearances with or without Miller, will spell a Miller victory on Tuesday.
Stein: Democrats and Republicans ‘have sold out.’
“Voters are tired of elections being contests between PR machines,” Stein said. She explained that’s what Democrats vs. Republicans has become: fights between largely figurehead candidates controlled by outside interests, These outsiders spend enormous sums of money to design slick campaigns that avoid honest talk about real issues. “Both parties have sold out.”
Laugenour said that while his campaign doesn’t have six or seven thousand dollars to spend on billboards, he said “human billboards” count more. He was referring to the numerous “stand outs” his supporters have done throughout the 4th district. “People are seeing that this is a total grassroots effort, but one, this time, that has a chance because of the obvious breakdown in politics as usual.”
Citing a tangible consequence of dysfunctional Big Party politics, Stein and Laugenour both pointed to the health-care situation in Massachusetts.
“Health care now eats up 1/2 of the total state budget,” Stein said. Of any candidate running for governor and probably every other state race, Stein has the highest credibility on health care. She’s a doctor, an M.D. (internal medicine). She understands how health care works and doesn’t work, and how it can be fixed: single payer, where the government provides health care to all as its own insurer, thereby eliminating the racket now enjoyed by the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies.
Laugenour: ‘Smitty Walked Out on His Responsibility to the People’
“Smitty says he supported single-payer,” Laugenour said, “but there’s a huge difference
between cosponsoring a bill and actively working to implement the bill. The first is merely to tell someone, ‘Yes, you can use my name [on a piece of legislation]. The second is to fight to see that it gets done. [Smitty] walked out on his responsibility to the people.”
On the subject of taxation, Stein said, “I am the only candidate who will fight unfair, regressive taxation whose policies give tax breaks to the richest one percent and hit hard people who can least afford to pay.” She said that includes the middle class, who feel caught in the middle from above and below.
Stein said Green-Rainbow has much in common with the Tea Party: Each (one a party, the other a coalition of movements) has arisen because government is broken and because of the actions of those dissatisfied with “business as usual.” Each believes in tax fairness. Each loathes how Big Money has corrupted democracy. Each knows that their elected officials have “sold out.” Stein said she could envision a time when these two ends of the political spectrum could unite.
“People feel betrayed by government,” Stein said. Today, “Democracy has a price tag on it, to be sold to the highest bidder. We can do better. This cynical process destroys hope and compromises happiness, health, and almost any other reasonable way by which people measure fulfillment [in their lives].”
Asked to sum up the Green-Rainbow philosophy in a single sentence, Stein said, “We’re about taking government back and putting it where it belongs: in the hands of the people.”