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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

My state, my choice

Published: January 22, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

<i>ILLUSTRATION BY Ariel Wittenberg/The Hoot</i>

ILLUSTRATION BY Ariel Wittenberg/The Hoot

Massachusetts is a blue state. Or, at least that’s what most people have assumed in the past. As such, Massachusetts is not usually a state plagued by imperialistic campaigners, crossing state lines to ensure our votes. In fact, it is more often the politically motivated people of Massachusetts who cross state lines into New Hampshire, for example, to get out the vote for their chosen candidate.

As a lifetime resident of Massachusetts, I have always felt I was missing out on some integral part of the political process because of the indelible blue filler that has covered my state on electoral maps for decades. I romanticized the swing state. I welcomed and wished for the day people from opposing parties would knock on my door and duke it out over which candidate was more deserving of my vote. And, I thought, as opposed to in Massachusetts where Republicans are usually overlooked and Democrats are taken for granted, living in a swing state makes your vote count more.

But after this week’s special election for the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat, I have experienced a ‘day in the life’ of a swing state, and no longer have the desire to live in one.

Unlike many on the Brandeis campus, this sudden comraderie I feel with New Hampshirites has absolutely nothing to do with the results of Tuesday’s election. In fact, I am fairly confident that no matter what the outcome of Tuesday’s race, I would still be nostalgic for those good old days, when I did not feel the watchful and ever judgmental eye of the nation on my commonwealth.

In case you missed it, according to the pundits this election would be somewhat of a midterm exam for President Obama. If the Democrats couldn’t hold on to one of the bluest states in the nation, how would Obama be able to win reelection come 2012? (Never mind the fact that 49 percent of Massachusetts voters are registered independents, more than the number of Republicans or Democrats). Furthermore, the pundits pontificated this election would determine whether or not the health care bill would pass. If Scott Brown won, they said, the Democrats would no longer have the 60 votes needed to overcome filibusters, which would ultimately destroy the health care bill and cause Teddy to roll over in his still fresh grave.

That’s a lot of pressure for the seventh smallest state in the nation (Massachusetts totals at 10,555 square miles).

The buck doesn’t stop there. After the election, the general population (Brandeisians included) were airing all sorts of hate for my state.

Facebook statuses of non-Massachusetts Democrats universally read “dissappointed in Mass. :-(,” “REALLY?! Massachusetts, REALLY?!,” and “Curse you, Massachussetts.” I was even called a “masshole” by someone’s Facebook status just by virtue of residing in the commonwealth, something I find insulting even without idea that a person’s political affiliations can dub them a hole of any kind.

So, at the risk of living up to the “masshole” label, and with all due respect to the pundits, energetic volunteers and concerned citizens–please, get out of my state.

To be clear, I am not opposed to any sort of “get out the vote” campaign–civic engagement is an integral part of democracy, no matter whom you vote for. I even understand the urges of Massachusetts citizens further engaging in the political landscape by discussing elections with their neighbors and attempting to convince them of whom to vote for.

But I am (however recently) opposed to people unconnected to my state telling me what to do.

While the nation may be focusing on the implications this vote will have on health care, or what kind of omen it could be for Obama, the fact is that this senator will have an impact on politics and policy both nationally and locally long after the health care debate is settled.

I do not mean to minimize the effect this election has on the national scale–its effect is and will continue to be great. But if you don’t live in Massachusetts, you’ve already elected your senators–you’ve made your choice, so don’t tell me how to make mine. The senator from Massachusetts is just that–the senator from Massachusetts.

The results of Tuesday’s election–for better or for worse–was the decision of Massachusetts alone, and we, more than any other population, will be the ones to live the consequences.

So while Martha Coakly supporters called it “Ted Kennedy’s seat,” and Scott Brown rebutted by calling it “the people’s seat,” this is just a friendly reminder that really, it’s Massachusetts’ seat.