Bravo to Goldstein-Rose for Declaring Independence from Democrats

On Tuesday, Amherst state Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose became the second independent in the Massachusetts Statehouse, changing his party affiliation from Democrat to unenrolled.

Predictably, party elders and political pundits  the same ones that predicted a sweeping win for Hillary Clinton  panned the move, saying that Goldstein-Rose is consigning himself to the periphery in a Statehouse organized around party caucuses.

Goldstein-Rose countered that the two-party system has resulted in gridlock on climate change, which he believes is one of the most important issues facing politicians.

And he’s right.

Rather than scorn Goldstein-Rose’s bold move, I hope that independent-minded politicians and candidates for Statehouse follow his example.

While the Democrats control the Statehouse, does that mean the party has taken bold action on people-centered causes? Not really.

Goldstein-Rose is a thoughtful individual whose policy ideas are valuable in the Statehouse. One such proposal, a “tax swap,” which would lower the state sales tax and charge a carbon pollution price to make up the revenue, is one he hopes will gain traction in both parties.

Solomon Israel Goldstein-Rose

The important issues he plans to focus on have not changed with his party affiliation. They remain carbon pollution pricing, ranked-choice voting, education reform to empower teachers, and civic engagement. He is also a sponsor of the single-payer legislation so many of his colleagues are shirking.

John Scibak and Stephen Kulik, both long-time Democrats, are retiring this year. Amherst state Senator Stanley Rosenberg is in political hot water, and may follow suit. None of them co- sponsored Medicare-for-all during this cycle.

Mary Olberding, the Hampshire County Register of Deeds, told Daily Hampshire Gazette writer Scott Merzbach that she believed the only reason Goldstein-Rose won his seat in 2016 is because he is a Democrat.

“Some of us who are Democrats to the core think there is now an open primary in the district that is overwhelmingly Democratic,” she said.

I would contend that these long standing Democratic seats may now be targets for unenrolled candidates who can be more free to pursue people-focused policy rather than party-focused hierarchies and tired left-right debates.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@valleyadvocate.com.

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