In The Arena

In the Arena: Not right time or choice

When I read on the wire this week that former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown was considering running for president, I thought somebody in the media must have been playing an elaborate practical joke.

When I realized that he was serious, it suddenly dawned on me not only how utterly screwed the Republicans are for a candidate in 2016, but how slim their chances are of winning a national election anytime in the near future.

Though some may not like him, Brown does have a political future, but not if he keeps listening to whoever put the bug in his ear that he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Instead, Brown should focus on raising the money and profile necessary to win the 2014 governor’s race, and leave his Oval Office aspirations on the cutting room floor where they belong.

My desire to see Brown leave the presidential stage as quickly as possible is not because I think he would be a bad president, but because I believe his party, as it now exists, is not worthy of him.

Some will, no doubt, view Brown as good vice-presidential timber for a ticket topped by a compassionate, electable candidate with strong conservative credentials. The problem is that no such animal exists. Instead, we have a GOP that’s increasingly dominated by a small group of ideologically inflexible troglodytes who appear to be going out of their way, on an almost daily basis, to alienate the very demographic groups they need to win on the national stage.

I’m not sure how it got this way, but I’m guessing it probably happened right around the time these geniuses decided to put the biological rights of more than half the voting public on the debating table. In doing so, they made it that much easier for the Democrats to use emotion and class warfare to turn elections from honest policy disagreements into something infinitely more personal.

You could see it in the last two elections. I don’t know a single Democrat who professed a great love for Ed Markey, but they hated Gabriel Gomez. Ditto Warren/Brown. I continue to be shocked by the level of anger I see from people get when certain names and issues get brought up. I’m not sure the “grand old party” fully understands this. I think some of their leaders still believe that all they need is to find the next “great communicator” who can persuade a majority of Americans that they have better ideas than the Democrats. History has shown that can work, provided the candidate in question is able to make an argument people will listen to.

That’s not going to happen if they hate your guts going in and the Democrats have become masters at stoking that particular fire, the flames from which have begun to spread to the unenrolled voters who largely decide elections in this country.

If Brown is smart, he’ll stay here and start rebuilding his party from the inside, before there is nothing left of it to salvage.

‘Friend to Friend’

One of this area’s truly special grassroots nonprofits needs your help to continue their mission of helping neighbors in need.

“We have a lot of families we are trying to help right now,” Melissa Nykorchuk of A Friend to Friend wrote me in an e-mail this week. “Any assistance from the community would be greatly appreciated.”

A Friend to Friend was established last year by a network of people based mainly in the Turners Falls area. The group’s goal is to provide resources and logistical help for families suffering from hardship, usually a sick relative or family breadwinner.

“We want to provide all kinds of support, the kinds of things that make people’s lives easier in a time of crisis,” Nykorchuk said at the time. “It could be money, or it could be something as simple as a ride to the doctor or cooking a meal. The point is to be there for people who are going through a tough time.”

A Friend to Friend has helped a lot of people, but its general fund stands at less than $1,000, a number Nykorchuk hopes will increase substantially from Saturday’s “Trivia Night” at 6 p.m. at the Harp Irish Pub in Amherst.

“We’re hoping for a big turnout,” Nykorchuk said. “We’ll have two rounds of trivia, with teams of up to five members, and there will be great food, and raffles and we’ll be selling T-shirts, too.”

Tickets are $10, but not many have been sold, so they need people to turn out — remembering that every penny they raise comes back to the community.

Believe me, there are worse ways to spend one of the last Saturday nights of what has been a pretty glorious summer.

Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder, and is a Greenfield native.

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