Recently, I received the following email from an old friend, Matt Barron, Mr. Rural Democrat, if I were to characterize him...
"After 41 years, I have left the Democratic Party. Attached is my letter of resignation as chair of the Democratic Town Committee. I will continue to stay involved working for/with individual candidates who are committed to real and meaningful rural voter outreach-messaging-engagement.
As a former Democrat, I very much value and cherish the friendships I have made with people across our fair Commonwealth and the nation and will continue to honor those relationships, many of which go back decades. If you are ever in the Hilltowns, my door is always open and the beer is always cold.
#Drive for 5
January 31, 2017
Mr. Augustus Bickford, Chair
Massachusetts Democratic Party
11 Beacon Street, Suite 410
Boston, MA 02108
Dear Chair Bickford:
On January 28, after 41 years as a member of the Democratic Party, I changed my registration to unenrolled. I did this after nine years of ever-growing frustration at the inability of the party to compete for rural and white working class voters. The results of the November 8, 2016 elections drove this situation home to the entire nation.
|Peace Park, Orange, Massachusetts (Franklin County)|
I am very proud of my efforts to build and grow the party in the Commonwealth’s small towns and rural communities over almost the last two decades. During that time, I:
· Recruited members and organized DTCs in towns where they either had never existed or had not existed for many years including: Ashfield, Bernardston, Blandford, Chester, Conway, Cummington, Goshen, Granville, Huntington, Leyden, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Salem, Otis, Peru, Plainfield (twice), Savoy, Sheffield, Townsend, Tyringham, Washington, Westhampton (twice), Williamsburg and Windsor.
· Created the Hilltown Democratic Coalition (HDC), a regional group of rural Democrats from Berkshire, Hampden and Hampshire counties formed in 2001. The HDC sponsored pig roasts and chicken barbeques to raise funds for Democratic candidates, sponsored candidate forums and published the Hilltown Democratic Dispatch, an e-newsletter that connected folks across sparsely populated political terrain.
|Petersham Country Store|
· Served on the Campaign Services Committee from 1999-2007, and led the Western Mass. Region effort in 2002 that helped elect Rep. Pignatelli and Rep. Scibak to the Massachusetts House.
· Authored the proposal to create a Rural Subcommittee for the Massachusetts Democratic Party (MDP) in 2014.
However, in recent years I have become alarmed at how the MDP has increasingly taken rural voters for granted in blue towns and ignored them in purple and red towns. The loss of the governorship in 2014 due to the massive underperformance by our nominee in rural Berkshire, Dukes, Franklin and Hampshire counties due to a refusal by the Coakley campaign and the MDP’s Coordinated Campaign to commit to a hyper-local and cost-effective rural strategy still does not sit well with many, many rural Democrats.
In addition, the complete failure of the Rural Subcommittee to get out of the blocks on a robust and focused mission of helping to assist in the aforementioned missing rural strategy and also of an ongoing effort to build the party at the grassroots by continuing to organize DTCs in rural towns where they are absent, has left a bitter and sour taste. In my entire career in electoral party politics, I have never witnessed a more lazy and ineffective person as Rural Subcommittee Chair Lisa Moscynzki. According to current data from the Office of Campaign & Political Finance and the MDP, my state senate district ranks first in the number of towns without a recognized and legal DTC, with more than a third of the 52 communities missing a local committee.
|Solar Farm in Hunt Farm cornfield, Orange, MA|
Any farmer will tell you that trying to harvest a crop without applying any nutrients to the soil is a fool’s errand. In politics, failure to extend any care and feeding to the grassroots results in poor harvests of votes. Across the state, from the cranberry towns in southeastern Mass to tiny burgs in Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester counties, Trump voters left their mark last November. As the Boston Globe noted “A Globe analysis of the state’s election results showed a reddening of the state’s western counties, including a suite of rural towns that made the jump from Democrat to Republican on Tuesday." The Trump effect happened in Massachusetts, too, November 14, 2016.
Over the years, the roster of the Democratic State Committee has grown and grown to encompass members of every racial and ethnic group, sexual orientation as well as college and youth, seniors, labor, disabled and veterans. Sadly, despite having some of the highest Democratic performance in statewide elections cycle after cycle, there is not a single DSC seat reserved for rural Democrats or geographic minorities. This sends a loud and clear signal that rural Democrats are invisible to the MDP leadership.
Given the fact that nationally, Democrats at the DNC, DCCC, DSCC and in the congressional steering and policy committees are brain dead when it comes to supporting and endowing rural electoral infrastructure and that here in Massachusetts, rural Democrats are ignored and treated as second class party members, I can no longer give my time, energy and financial contributions to the Democrats.
So, because of this state of affairs, I am writing to inform you that after more than 18 years as chair of the Chesterfield Democratic Town Committee, I am resigning that position. Two of the other three members of the town committee have indicated that they have no desire to become chair.
Matt L. Barron
54 Stage Road
Williamsburg, MA 01096
Matt Barron photo provided by Matt. All other photos taken by Genevieve Fraser.