Scott Brown’s stunning upset of Martha Coakley in Tuesday’s Massachusetts special senatorial election has everyone buzzing. Ted Kennedy’s seat (as some thought of it) going to a Republican, for the first time in 58 years?! In ultra-liberal, sky-blue Massachusetts?! It’s like when Lord Cornwallis’s forces surrendered to George Washington’s Continentals in 1781, and an American army band played, “The World Turned Upside Down.”
Well, of course there were national factors at work there. Barack Obama’s persona, which seemed a graceful, soaring orator sent from on high to lead us to “change we can believe in” one year ago, has soured considerably for a number of reasons. The catchline, “We inherited this mess” has started to sound pretty hollow in view of stubbornly high unemployment rates, soaring federal deficits, the threat of more terror attacks, and a seemingly obsessive determination to ram through “health-care reform” for the U.S., never mind that polls show the form the Democrats are offering it in, isn’t wanted by the voters. “Mr. Change” has come to seem more like “Professor Windbag.” Add to that the fact that Brown proved to be a very effective candidate and Martha Coakley a very inept one, and the win seems more comprehensible. Plus, when one party has held an office for so long, the voters often feel that it’s time to give the other side a chance.
But there is a deeper rumbling here — one that applies to us right here in Madison, IN, as well as to all the rest of the country, that helped spark the Tea Party movement. Many, many of us feel that our elected officials are ignoring what we want to pursue their own pet agendas — Democrat or Republican, there are many from both sides tarred with that brush.
Look, for example, at some instances in our own community. The Madison-Milton bridge is, literally, the largest and most obvious example. Few Madison or Milton residents could be found that would say, today, “Yes, I think tearing the old bridge off its existing pilings that are 80 years old, and building a new bridge on those pilings, resulting in the bridge being closed for probably more than a year, is a good idea.” No, folks, we ain’t saying that — in the taverns, the barber shops, Wal-Mart, or anywhere else. But it doesn’t matter. Our local powers-that-be have decided that the bridge must be built that way (if it’s ever going to be built) in order to qualify for federal stimulus money. Otherwise, it might have to be closed down soon, altogether, as being unsafe.
Well, what if we said, “We don’t care; we don’t want it done this way, and if we have to raise the money some other way, so be it!” Of course, we could say that, and they could continue to ignore our wishes, as they seem, at any rate, to be doing now. Perhaps if they and/or their predecessors had done a better job in pushing for a bridge years ago, we would already have one by now. And, in all fairness to our leaders, perhaps if we, the people of this community, had been able to agree on an acceptable route other than the existing one, it would have sent a message to the people with the money. Perhaps, perhaps … But those things didn’t happen. Now it’s too late. We’re stuck with doing it their way (the king’s coin, the king’s law); or losing the bridge altogether.
Take the King’s Daughters’ Hospital and Health Services, which has been located in downtown Madison for over 100 years. Now, in defiance of the wishes of most of the community, the KDH administrator and board are pushing ahead with their plans for a big, new (expensive) hospital on the hilltop, and the abandonment of the existing facility downtown, which has grown and grown over the years as KDH bought up more and more property. Does it make you think of Obama and the Democratic Congress and the health-care reform issue? Are we just stuck with what our “betters” in positions of authority are determined to force-feed us?
I’ll cite one more local example, although this one is of a religious nature, affecting the local citizens of a particular faith, rather than the community as a whole. I’m speaking of the plans by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to close Prince of Peace Catholic Church’s facility downtown, as soon as a big, new Catholic church is built near Shawe and Pope John schools. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, who is a life-long Catholic (and even older than me). He told me that many older members of the Roman Catholic community in Madison are upset at the prospect of losing the last Catholic church in downtown Madison. But, again, there seems to be no recourse for them. The Archdiocese (elected officials; KDH administrators and board) have spoken. Pipe down and get out of the way!
A few years ago, a local preservation group called Cornerstone was successful in preventing the tearing down of an aging, county-owned building on East Second Street because it considered a tinted glass panel above the front door to be “historic.” Yet the majority of the community has not been able to cause re-consideration of these much, MUCH larger issues.
What is wrong with this picture? The Tea Party movement was formed nationwide because people felt their wishes were being ignored. Maybe we need our own Tea Party, on a local, Madison-Milton level.
Maybe we need to send them ALL a message!