“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

Jim Peters sent along the following essay:

I have some major health issues that sometimes I can forget about; to be dredged up at another time. One of those recently caused me to reconsider running for State Committee. I was mentally ready for a run, but physically I had to determine that I was not up to it. It irritated me to think that my physical problems dictated my decision.

It started out innocently enough. On my email page was a prompt, asking if you wanted to be a Massachusetts State Committeeman. It sounded interesting, and I had no idea how political it was to just say “yes.” So I punched the key that said exactly that. Then, totally forgetting about it (I have short term memory loss caused by a stroke ten years ago), I went about my business, literally. I worked on my business. I do landscaping and I am fairly good at it. So I worked on my landscaping business. Then I made a mental note to go to the Democratic caucuses. Those were held two Saturdays ago at 10AM in the East End Club. When I got there, this total stranger came up and introduced himself and said he was running against me. “What am I running for?” was a question that went through my head.

It did not take me long to find out. It turned out that pressing that “yes” key had gotten me into a race for Massachusetts State Committee. I must admit that I found it funny, more than anything else. One politician told me that, if I chose to do it, it would encompass a great deal of work. My wife asked me if it paid anything. I did not know about the amount of work or the stipend. I still do not know if it paid anything. I presumed that it did not.

Everyone was very helpful and I got a list of Democratic Town Committeemen on the email. I called them and found out that Dunstable had a meeting on Saturday and Groton on Sunday at 4PM. So I made a mental note to go to them and speak about issues I found disturbing about the Democratic Party. The fact that we do not cry from the rooftops that we are liberal was one thing I mentioned. Conservatives have no problem calling themselves just that but Liberals do not refer to themselves as “liberal.” I mentioned in Groton that Jack Kennedy once wrote an entire newspaper story about why he was a Liberal. There were good reasons given, including equality of opportunity, better race relations, and other things. I told them that the title of the Globe newspaper page was “Why I am a Liberal.”
The title, presented in the term of Ronald Reagan, seemed inflammatory. At least at that time, it did.

So, I talked about how important it was that we not lose our identity because, as I told my children, a Republican is largely about money while a Democrat was largely about people. I hold to that opinion. I believe that, in every Republican debate this year it has been largely about the budget and overspending, while the Democrats have quietly and effectively shut down oil pipelines that could do great harm unless the oil is purified. The Democrats, the group I called once the “Suicide Congress” voted through a pretty decent medical package with so many Republican amendments that the document is over 300 pages long. No one, it seems to me, know all aspects of it.

That is why I wanted to get involved, because it is time for Democrats to get out of their chairs and challenge the other party on stymiing the entire budget. Someone, I believe, has to stand up to the Tea Partiers besides President Obama. My sister-in-law, Niki Tsongas is trying, as are many House Democrats. But they need those of us still at home to support them. Without that support, I feel, their jobs are untenable and this is a do-nothing Congress.

With that in mind, I spoke to the Groton Town Committee. I reminded them of Republican advances like the National Park System that their party now seems to want to tear down. It was started by Republican Theodore Roosevelt. Or the Land Grant system that gave us land for colleges and universities. It was started by Republican Abraham Lincoln. Or the worst depression in our early history in the 1890’s with its rampant twenty percent jobless rate. And maybe the Great Depression that was probably started by Republican President Calvin Coolidge. Mind you, I like Calvin Coolidge, he just was unaware of the dangers of the thinking of members of his administration. Everyone blames Herbert Hoover, and he did carry on Coolidge’s programs, but it was probably Coolidge who precipitated it.

Last night I could not sleep, so I sat up and thought about what I wanted to say and whether I wanted to say it. I concluded that I knew what I wanted to say, which I have said already in this missive, Then, I thought about my opponent and I decided that he had more energy, and seemingly no health problems getting in his way. So, this morning I called Mike Demaras and told him the truth, that I was too sick to effectively do the job. Besides, I kind of like being involved but being free to live my life. So I told Mike that the answer was “No.”

That was my great adventure of the past few days. Perhaps I should not have told you about it. But, on the other hand, perhaps it was the type of thing that needed to be told. There are an awful lot of us who contribute to both parties and stay in the background. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that.

One Response to “Meanderings” by Jim Peters

  1. Daniel Patrick Murphy says:

    Jim Peters,

    You’re courage and honesty is admirable. It brings to mind John F. Kennedy’s book ‘Profiles In Courage’. If we were all as transparent and authentic in our political stances, our world would be a better place. Thank you.

    Daniel Patrick Murphy