Think back to November 6, 2012. Harvard's campus was full of energy. We marched and carried signs and wore stickers, and we voted: An overwhelming number of students registered in Massachusetts went to the polls on Election Day. We held our breath with the entire nation as Massachusetts played host to one of the most anticipated elections in recent memory with Elizabeth Warren challenging Scott Brown for his Senate seat. The truck-driving Brown, victor of the special election to replace the late Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56 had improbably won the seat after positioning himself as a moderate and a populist. Though he kept good to his word on some issues in the Senate, Brown came up woefully short on issues as important as equal pay and access to contraception.
In the face of an excited and mobilized electorate, Brown could only watch as the voters of the Commonwealth, including a record number of students, swept Warren into office, choosing a progressive voice to advocate for their interests in the Senate. Next week, Massachusetts voters face a similar decision, and the stakes are just as high as before.
With the confirmation of John F. Kerry as America’s new Secretary of State, Massachusetts once again faces a special election. Though the general election is still two months out, the primary election to determine each party’s nominee is this Tuesday, and the choice on the Democratic side could not be clearer.
The Harvard College Democrats broke from historical precedent this February and issued an endorsement in the primary race. We overwhelmingly endorsed Congressman Ed Markey for the nomination because, unlike his opponent, Markey is a reliable champion of the progressive cause and will vote in the Senate with the best interests of students in mind.
Challenging Markey in the election is Stephen Lynch who, despite being a registered Democrat, may be more conservative than Scott Brown. Lynch voted against the President’s healthcare reform that allowed young adults to stay on their family insurance plans until age 26. Though he quickly updated his stances to twenty-first century standards upon entering the race, Lynch has constantly been on the wrong side of social issues ranging from a woman’s right to choose to the ability of a person to marry whomever she loves. Lynch failed to sign an amicus curiae brief that urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional (though he has since blamed this on an email glitch).
Fortunately, Lynch is not the only choice for voters. Through more than four decades of public service, Ed Markey has proven himself as a skilled negotiator and an effective voice for Massachusetts in Congress. Perhaps Markey’s most impressive achievement is authoring the only bill aiming to counteract the dangers of climate change that either chamber of Congress has ever passed. In addition to leading the charge on energy and environmental issues, Markey voted for the President’s health care reform and is an ardent supporter of the medical research and healthcare technologies that are central to the economy of our Commonwealth.
Congressman Markey’s progressive credentials run deep. He supports common sense gun safety reforms such as closing the gun show loophole, universal background checks of gun purchasers, and restricting the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. He is a proponent of a balanced and responsible approach to foreign policy, one that doesn’t needlessly put the lives of American servicemen at risk. Decades ago, he became one of the first prominent supporters of marriage equality and has not wavered in his support, even when it has cost him political points.
Brown won in 2010 not just because he was able to cast himself as a centrist, but also because Democrats in Massachusetts decided to sit back in that special election. The idea of Brown winning seemed so unlikely and remote that many Democrats considered his defeat a forgone conclusion. This mentality inspired a low voter turnout that proved crucial in giving Brown the electoral edge.
Voter turnout is similarly the greatest uncertainty facing Ed Markey in his campaign for Senate. If you believe—as John Kerry, Vicki Kennedy, the Boston Globe, and countless other Massachusetts leaders do--that this state needs a Senator who will support the work of the President and Senator Warren, a Senator who will work on making real progress for Massachusetts and the nation, then make sure your voice is heard in next week’s primary.
You made a difference on November 6, 2012. On April 30, 2013, you can make another important decision for the nation's future. After your morning classes, hop over to your polling place. Remember Ed Markey when you cast your ballot on Tuesday.
Simon M. Thompson ’14, President of the Harvard College Democrats, lives in Pforzheimer House. Daniel R. Ki ’15, Campaigns Director of the Harvard College Democrats, lives in Mather House. Aram M. Zadeh ’16, member of the Campaigns Committee, lives in Matthews Hall.