Editorial: Markey is the choice for Senate

  • Sen. Ed Markey talks during a public forum on the Green New Deal in March of 2019. Gazette file photo

  • U.S. Senator Edward Markey speaks with the Daily Hampshire Gazette in 2017. At left is Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz. Gazette file photo

Published: 8/21/2020 3:49:26 PM
Modified: 8/21/2020 3:49:12 PM

During a meeting with the Gazette’s editorial board last week, Sen. Ed Markey spent a few minutes answering a question about enforcement of public health measures to fight COVID-19.

When pressed about how he would enforce mask-wearing, Markey said he favors a national mask requirement. Then he paused. “That’s a good question, and you know what? I think you’re right. I’m going to introduce a bill requiring a national mask requirement,” he told the board. A few hours later, the Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, called for the same measure.

Earlier in the same editorial board meeting, Markey discussed education inequality, such as his work to ensure internet access for students. But when again pressed, this time about how to help families with child care, he said the $7 billion included in the Heroes Act coronavirus relief package currently being debated in the Senate should be $50 billion, at a minimum, so that “everyone who needs that child care will in fact have access to it.”

As one editor put it, “When pressed, he ripped up the script and gave a real answer.”

In both of these instances, the 74-year-old junior senator from Massachusetts showed that even after 43 years in Congress, including the last seven as a senator and 36 as representative, he’s willing and eager to listen to ideas, to engage in thoughtful conversation and to take action.

For these and many other reasons — experience, a proven track record of policy achievements on some of the most important issues facing our country, and the ability to excite the young and the old alike — Markey is our choice in the dead-heat race against challenger, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III.

There’s a good chance Markey’s progressive record on justice in many areas — racial, environmental, health care, and criminal and police reform — will likely see a huge boost after the Nov. 3 election.

With the potential for Democrats to take over the presidency, flip the Senate and hold the House, now is the moment for some of Markey’s key work to advance, from action on climate change like the Green New Deal to continued efforts to push funding necessary for individuals, hospitals, universities and other institutions to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Now is not the time to replace Markey with a fellow Democrat in Kennedy who shares many of the same positions, but has less experience and a less-focused vision for the state.

We agree with those who question why Kennedy chose this time in history to run against an incumbent who shares similar positions on issues, instead of using the money and resources in other races around the country where Democrats have a chance to beat Republicans.

In fact, that’s the first question — why are you running, and why now? — the editorial board asked Kennedy. His answer is one he’s repeated many times during this yearlong campaign: There’s more to being a senator than voting and filing popular bills. He focused on Markey’s lack of time spent in Massachusetts.

“I’m running because we deserve more out of our senator,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy emphasized the number of times he’s been in western Massachusetts during the campaign, buying a face mask in Northampton or meeting with a brewery in Berkshire County. He has a strong sense of what’s happening on the ground in communities throughout the state, which is commendable and an example of his leadership during his time as a four-term congressman.

While he might make for a fine senator one day, Kennedy hasn’t made a strong enough case for constituents to upend the apple cart. Like most politicians, we’d like to see Markey visit this region more than he does, but the senator from Malden did host a town hall in Northampton last year, and has visited Northampton, Greenfield and other communities both prior to and during the campaign.

Markey is a creative thinker about big, hard problems. He’s the right person in Congress to help lead the nation out of the pandemic in what he calls our FDR moment, whose New Deal helped the country emerge from the Great Depression. The New Deal is the model upon which the Green New Deal is built, and Markey believes it will create millions of new jobs and is the ideal response to COVID-19 and income inequality — not to mention tackling the pressing issue of climate change that has helped galvanize his younger activist supporters.

Markey’s work on climate change didn’t start with the Green New Deal. A decade earlier, for example, he drafted legislation to prepare the U.S. for the crisis, and in 2007 pushed through a bill that improved fuel economy standards, to name a couple of initiatives he has championed.

Markey supports Medicare for All single-payer health care as an answer to the millions of Americans who have lost their private health insurance plans during the pandemic.

We respect Kennedy and believe he is in this race for the right reasons. He is passionate, articulate and will work hard for all of Massachusetts, including those in the western half of the state. Like Markey, he believes in progressive causes, which is why he should be commended for his commitment to climate change, health care access, economic inequality, voting, racism, and immigrant and LGBTQ rights.

Nationally, he has done a lot to help Democrats around the country win, especially helping flip the House to Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. That’s a big reason House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed him on Thursday. She said Kennedy represents the party’s future.

Markey, however, is the party’s present. He should be sent back to Washington, D.C.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy