I put some nonstandard queries to the two nominees in the Senate special election, hoping their answers might be illuminating — or at least unexpected.
Here are Edward Markey’s responses:
1. Are TV shows getting better or worse?
The good thing about TV today is that there are so many choices. There are some great dramas, especially on cable and even on streaming content like Netflix. Me? I usually choose sports.
2. Is there a popular political aphorism or rule of thumb that you consider egregiously wrong?
Yes. The aphorism “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no head” is dead wrong and Tea Party Republicans in Washington prove this nearly every day.
3. Lord Acton famously warned that “power tends to corrupt.” Do you feel that his warning applies to you?
The full quote from Lord Acton is: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The genius of our Founders was that they created a republic in which elected officials are accountable to the people through regular elections, combined with a system of checks and balances aimed at preventing any person from ever attaining “absolute power.” I think this system has worked well over the years. Voters have had a chance to regularly decide whether or not I’m doing a good job in office. They decide whether they believe I fight for issues they care about – protecting Social Security, banning assault weapons, and supporting tax fairness.
4. Did you ever read a book that changed your way of looking at the world?
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.
5. Do too many people go to college?
While college isn’t for everyone, everyone should have the opportunity and support to keep learning, especially in a rapidly changing economy.
The problem isn’t too many people going to college, but college being too expensive. Massachusetts is the education capital of the world. College is still the best way for a person to get a job and get ahead in life. We recognize that education is a ladder of opportunity and an investment in the future. Our colleges and universities attract talent from across the state and the nation, and those students stay here to start new companies and help our economy thrive.
6. Former presidents get a hefty annual pension; lavish staff, office, and travel allowances; round-the-clock security; health care for life. Given such generous taxpayer support, is it appropriate for ex-presidents to pocket tens of millions of dollars in speaking fees?
President Clinton, Carter, and both Bushes earned the right to be heard, and the right to make a living. These are people who served our country, and now they should be allowed to provide for their family. And in the modern world, there are realities of being a former president that must include protection and other necessities.
7. Is every problem in society something government should address? Can you name a troubling social concern that does not require government action?
Government has a responsibility to protect and improve the lives of its citizens. When our people are sick, we should help them get well. When our people are hungry, we should help feed them. When people are out of work, we should help them get back on their feet. And when our people want to the opportunity to succeed and support their families, we should provide a quality education, affordable health care, and investments in the programs that help every person achieve the American Dream.
8. Which senator in Massachusetts history would you say was most overrated? Most underrated?
Anyone who serves Massachusetts as Senator deserves our appreciation. The only rating system that matters is the voters.
9. What’s the best blunder you ever made?
Missing the Bucky Dent home run game in 1978.
10. Thomas Jefferson said in 1787: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Do you agree?
A society without government would be anarchy. A society without newspapers would be at risk of losing its character as a democracy, as the press serves as an important check on those in power. We need both.