Tomorrow the people of Massachusetts will cast their ballots in perhaps the most important and consequential Senate race of this election cycle. For more than two years, incumbent Senator Scott Brown (who won a special election in January 2010 to serve out the late Edward M. Kennedy’s ninth term in the upper chamber) has unquestionably served the Commonwealth both ably and faithfully. In fact, at a time of increased polarization and gridlock in Washington, Scott Brown has been one of only a handful of lawmakers genuinely committed to working with both political parties to move the country forward.
According to a Congressional quarterly study released in 2011, for example, Brown voted with his party 54 percent of the time, thereby distinguishing himself as “the second most bipartisan Senator in Washington.” Two salient examples include joining Democrats to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” -- a 1993 federal law that banned openly gay men and women from serving in the military -- and co-sponsoring legislation to prohibit members of Congress from engaging in Insider Trading. What’s more, he has also been recognized by Washingtonian magazine as the least partisan Senator on Capitol Hill.
Scott Brown’s track record of bipartisanship, as well as his unique across-the-aisle approach to governance, is sorely lacking but desperately needed in Washington. Solving the nation’s myriad challenges -- high unemployment, trillion-dollar-plus deficits, a broken tax code, and so on -- will require increased cooperation between Republicans and Democrats and proven bipartisan leadership in the years ahead. And as the sole GOP federal lawmaker from Massachusetts, Brown has shown -- time and again -- his willingness to cross party lines in support of good legislative ideas irrespective of where they originated.
But regrettably, his chances of winning re-election seem to be narrowing. Recent polls suggest that the incumbent now trails US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren somewhere between four and seven percentages points (although one Boston Globe poll has them locked in a virtual dead heat). His opponent -- a deeply partisan Democrat who once asserted she created “the intellectual foundation” for the radical Occupy Wall Street movement -- has raised and deployed nearly $40 million this election cycle.
In one sense, from the moment Senator Brown took the oath of office, we’ve always known that a Republican’s chances of winning re-election in a deeply blue state were by no means certain. And yet, ever since Elizabeth Warren tossed her hat into the ring, the Harvard Law School professor and “consumer advocate” has repeatedly failed to be forthright and candid with the American people. And the mainstream media’s unwillingness to ask tough questions regarding her self-identified minority status has only added fuel to the fire vis-à-vis her dubious claims of Native American ancestry.
The fact is that Ms. Warren listed herself as an ethnic minority in a law school directory from 1986 to 1995, and abandoned the claim after nine years -- the exact same year she received tenure at Harvard Law School. This raised -- and continues to raise -- two relevant questions: (1) What evidence does she have to support such a claim and (2), if she truly is Native American, why did she (officially) renounce her heritage at the precise moment she received tenure at one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States?
Of course, we now know that the genealogist who provided the only shred of evidence confirming her purported “1/32 Cherokee” lineage later apologized, concluding her initial analysis was “based on no documentation” and “an honest mistake,” according to Breitbart.com. Furthermore, when pressed by the media why she self-identified as an ethnic minority in the first place (especially when there was no apparent evidence), Warren claimed she wanted to meet with “people who are like I am” because her “mother” told her from an early age she was Native American. When that didn’t pan out, of course, she simply stopped “checking the box.” (She later cited her grandmother’s “high cheekbones” as further evidence of her ethnic status). As any thinking person understands -- and common sense leads one to conclude -- that “family lore” is not sufficient evidence to list oneself as an official member of a minority group in a professional journal. Period.
Unsurprisingly, Warren continues to maintain that she did not benefit professionally from her now-discredited ethnic claims, even though she was hired by two Ivy League institutions who explicitly listed her as a “minority.” And in fairness, it is true that a number of her former colleagues have attested publicly (including at least one individual who gave money to her Senatorial campaign) that she was not hired because she helped fill racial quotas, but because she was a great teacher. Fair enough. But with no other credible evidence to the contrary on the table, is it unreasonable to conclude that her “minority” status almost certainly helped advance her academic career? Indeed, her tendency to run away from reporters asking tough questions continues to raise more than a few eyebrows.
“Because power corrupts,” former president and Massachusetts statesman John Adams once wrote, “society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” Thus, since the United States Senate is perhaps the most important and prestigious legislative body in our electoral democracy, voters should not elect candidates to the upper chamber who refuse to answer legitimate questions in a transparent fashion.
Many believe that this is a fundamental question of integrity, and Senator Brown among others has repeatedly urged Professor Warren to end voter concern on this issue and release her personnel records. To no one’s surprise, she has refused.
We the People might not be able to hold Elizabeth Warren accountable for her unsubstantiated ancestral claims (or the fact that she committed plagiarism, for that matter) but we can make a difference when it counts -- on Election Day. By voting to re-elect Senator Scott Brown on November 6th, we can send a proven, bipartisan and honest representative back to Washington -- an individual who has rightfully earned the public’s trust. And frankly, at the end of the day, that is the type of bipartisan leadership we want serving the Commonwealth and working to end congressional gridlock; not individuals who demonstrate blind partisanship and make incredible claims without any evidence.
UPDATE: Less than 24 hours before voters head to the ballot box, Scott Brown now leads Elizabeth Warren by one percentage point according to a new UMass/Boston Herald poll.