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Endorsement for Congress

September 11, 2010

Congress: Stephen Lynch

While his opponent would like us to think that incumbent Congressman Stephen Lynch has moved too far to the right to deserve re-election, Congressman Lynch remains the only reasonable, while not perfect, choice for Congress this year. Lynch’s opponent in the Democratic primary on Tuesday is union aide Mac D’Alessandro. D’Alessandro, if elected Congressman, is likely to vote with Nancy Pelosi and party leadership on every issue, and has positioned himself as a stalwart progressive. With D’Alessandro, bipartisanship and compromise will not be an option, even in the polarizing political environment we live in today. Lynch’s diverse views on the issues, from his opposition to the healthcare reform package, to his vote on cap-and-trade, are moderate enough that Lynch can accurately position himself as a more moderate Democrat who is not afraid to vote against his party when the times call for it. As such, Lynch is 180’s choice for Congress this year.

Lynch is by far the most conservative member of the US House from Massachusetts, a status that D’Alessandro continues to emphasize when courting liberal voters. But Lynch’s views are actually quite liberal by national standards, and his views don’t come close to matching the views of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative House Democrats. Lynch’s most controversial vote this year, which put him in the crosshairs of many hardcore Democrats, was against the health care reform legislation that was passed by Congress amid a highly polarizing debate. While health care reform is most certainly needed in this country, the final package that was passed with not one Republican vote falls far short of true reform. Lynch understood that more work was needed, and wasn’t afraid to say so.

The health care debate was a struggle for Lynch. While he originally voted in favor of the House bill in 2009, he was under pressure from unions to vote for the final reform package that passed earlier this year. His opposition to taxes on the so-called “Cadillac” health plans was notable, as was his position that he wanted to see some form of public option in the bill. Other Democrats in his position, despite having their own reservations about the final package for various reasons, didn’t have the nerve to state the obvious: the healthcare reform package needed far more revision. Only 34 Democrats voted against the final package, and Lynch was one of them. The reasons why he voted against the health care reform package aren’t the reasons why he deserves re-election. He deserves re-election because he bucked his own party and didn’t vote for the bill just because leadership wanted him to. He voted against it because he did not feel comfortable with the provisions in the bill. While 180 does not agree with his specific views on what type of reforms should be included in the bill, Lynch stood up to his own party in an act of courage that is rare on Capitol Hill. D’Alessandro and the Republican candidates in the race for his seat are all more interested in pursuing their own party’s agendas, rather than truly reforming the nation’s healthcare system.

For liberal voters who want to support a candidate who backs unions, Lynch is no worse than D’Alessandro. As a former union leader, Lynch is a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize. The bill is currently being considered but has not been voted on yet. There is no doubt that Lynch, who worked as a unionized ironworker, has not forgotten where he came from in organized labor.

D’Alessandro has tried to portray Lynch as a rogue Democrat who has been fighting against President Obama’s ambitious agenda. But Lynch’s votes tell a far different story. Lynch supported the 2009 stimulus package, and the controversial cap-and-trade legislation that Republicans have derided as a new tax on American families. During the Bush administration, he voted against Bush tax cuts, and criticized the administration’s restrictions on stem-cell research.

Republicans in this state who are more socially-conservative can be pleased with his generally pro-abortion record and generally anti-gay marriage record, which has become more liberal over the years. While his views on both of these issues have generated a lot of tension between him and fellow Massachusetts liberals, all Republicans should be happy that he’s not a mainstream liberal candidate who intends to vote with his party on every issue, no matter what. For example, he voted in favor of the Iraq War and the PATRIOT Act. He did, however, vote not to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act, which may sooth some liberals.

Surely, neither Republicans nor Democrats can not be happy with the votes of Stephen Lynch. His voted have been all over the road. Lynch deserves re-election not because he has voted correctly on every issue, which he most certainly has not, but because he is not afraid to take risks and vote what he believes is right. His opponents have been staunch conservatives or staunch progressives. Meanwhile, Lynch has been fighting for what he believes is right, and has not let party philosophy dictate how he votes.

What it comes down to is this: Would you rather have a Congressman everybody agrees with every now and then, or a congressman who only some people agree with 100% of the time, and everyone else agrees with 0% of the time? It’s better to have a Congressman who’s in the middle of the road than to have a Congressman who pushes his party’s agenda 100% of the time. Electing a Republican or a hardcore Democrat like Mac D’Alessandro to Congress will mean party philosophy comes before Massachusetts citizens.

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