The Massachusetts Senate Race: Nasty Campaigning Despite Pledge

In addition to the presidential election, many are commenting that this election could sway the senate in favor of the democrats. One contest in particular—the Massachusetts race—is receiving a great deal of attention for this reason. On the ballot are incumbent, Republican Scott Brown, and challenger, Democrat Elizabeth Warren. The citizens of Massachusetts are being inundated with commercials, robo-calls, and phone surveys.

The other night, I joined 96 other callers from around the country in a phone bank for Elizabeth Warren. We were calling mostly independents considered “likely to vote”.  The reactions were varied, but strong. Some, exasperated, heard Warren’s name and waited patiently for me to finish to say, “We are voting for Warren, but please do not call us again.” Others—many others—hung up the phone before I could finish saying that I was “calling from the Elizabeth Warr… “ Some interrupted me to emphatically profess their preference for Brown. One man yelled, “I have seen the ads and I would not vote for Warren if she were running unopposed!! I will NEVER vote for a liar!”

Needless to say, there is a lot of bad blood flowing between the candidates, despite the pledge that both candidates signed at the beginning of January. Most recently, the attacks on Warren’s heritage have taken center stage, as Josh explored for us.

Watching the debate, I was shocked to hear Brown attack Warren’s character this way within the first 3 minutes. As Josh mentioned, this attack is a nasty one. Declaring someone else’s racial, ethnic or cultural background false, is shaky ground to run a campaign on. This attack plays on white fears surrounding affirmative action, and is dirty—probably one of the least civil tactics Brown could have employed. Once Warren so articulately responded to the attacks, the issue should have died down, but Brown continues to use it as the main demonstration for his superior electability. During the debate, he also expertly capitalized on language that has been used throughout the presidential campaign as well (but by the opposite party) claiming that she unduly “checked the box” and needs to “release her records”. Democrats rallied around that same request–that Romney release his records–for months, so this language could be especially motivating for independents.

Interestingly, both candidates spoke negatively about raising taxes. As an outsider, I found it difficult to follow who had the “better” tax plan for the “average” citizen. I am obviously partial to Warren, but I felt that neither candidate did a particularly good job of addressing tax and economic policy and only further confused listeners. See for yourself.

My last comment (complaint) about the debate was the use Brown made of “women”. Brown claimed, “I have been fighting for women since I was six years old”, capitalizing on a story of domestic abuse from his childhood. Using this to his advantage seems low. At one point, Brown chastised Warren, saying “Once again, Professor, you have to stop scaring women.” I found this comment less than reassuring. Though “professor” denotes a position of power, highlighting her as a professor instead of a senator, implies a lack of experience. The statement sounded condescending and aggressive. He also claimed his sympathy towards women because of his “house full of women”—referring to his wife and daughters. None of these comments demonstrated a sincere understanding of women’s issues or a respect for women in my opinion.

But maybe I’m biased… What do you think?

-Abbey Roth

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About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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