I believe in Alex Morse


Published: 8/4/2020 3:18:38 PM

I have just finished the 17th postcard out of 50 I agreed to write to support Alex Morse’s campaign for congress in MA-01. I can only write a few at a time before my hand aches. There’s a lot to write, a script to highlight the Holyoke mayor’s accomplishments and why he’s a better choice than the long-serving incumbent.

Too many words to actually fit on the stamped postcards I recently purchased at the post office. I find myself omitting words now and then or leaving out phrases. I’m not the only one. The script used to include the sentence about how as Mayor of Holyoke Alex Morse increased the number of people of color in government. Now for brevity, it doesn’t.

It does include the fact that Alex reduced unemployment and moved Holyoke to 92% renewable energy. It does note that he’s the leader we deserve. The thing is that I can’t even vote for him since Greenfield is not in his district, though I do feel lucky that we get to vote for McGovern, who carries out an enlightened and effective agenda for our counties.

But I have wanted to support Alex Morse since meeting him years ago. Since learning about his campaign to unseat a long serving representative who has gotten too comfortable with lobbyists and corporate interests.

I had the good fortune of meeting Alex at a large private gathering one day. I was struck by his youth, his outreach and his ease among an ethnically diverse crowd. He seemed to fit right in, to know people by name, to enjoy the company. Later sharing deck seating, I introduced myself, indicated my credentials, which happened to include my children, already his supporters, and so we began to chat.

I was wondering how someone so young, had the confidence to run for mayor (he was 24 at the time — maybe the youngest mayor in the nation, I think?) and to take on the Holyoke city machine. He’d done it before, he explained. While at Holyoke High School, he had organized the first gay/straight alliance despite faculty uncertainty. He had come out as a gay man at a time that it was risky to do so. And then had worked to make it safe for others. That intention to provide for others, to want to make a safer space for outsiders or those excluded from the privileges of society is now evident in the priorities of his mayoral leadership and in the causes he endorses as candidate.

Empathy. That quality strikes me one of the most critical assets in leadership today. I doubt that Alex has experienced food insecurity or been denied health care. I doubt that he has encountered the threat of losing his home or struggled to make his car payments. And yet, perhaps, because of who he is, his identity as a gay man, he has known prejudice and exclusion. Perhaps he has known fear and insecurity. And perhaps that has shaped his priorities, helped him understand the urgency of change and need to act on the courage of his convictions. And then to do what the recent John Lewis proclaimed has to be done, “to make good trouble.”

Others have described in greater depth the programs Alex Morse supports that incumbent Richard Neal does not in recent Recorder op-eds (i.e. Satya Johnson’s My Turn, July 31; David Greenburg’s Letter to the Editor, July 18).

I am eager to add my support for his policies, but also to embrace the virtues of this young person, and many others like him, throwing their hats into the messy arena of the public square out of their own sense of compassion for others. Thank you, Alex Morse and your many allies. While those of us in Greenfield can’t vote for Alex on Sept. 1, those of you in Colrain, Shelburne and Heath can. And I hope you do. Meanwhile, I’ll get right to the 33 remaining postcards.

Ruth Charney is a resident of Greenfield.

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