I am responding to Michele Marantz's letter of July 9 to 15, in The Reminder.|
I find no fault with Ms. Marantz's right to express her opinion of Congressman Richard Neal's record of service to his constituents over the years. He has served since 1989 and has risen through the ranks to a position of considerable influence and prestige in the House of Representatives. I disagree with Ms. Marantz's evaluation of the Congressman. It strikes me as selective and biased. Let me shed a little light on his history of public service.
Congressman Neal was first elected in 1988. His record since then has been one of consistent support for working families in his district. The evidence for this has been his strong support from labor unions and progressive groups who keep close track of a politician's voting record. Congressman Neal has been a strong supporter of working class families and their right to organize into labor unions for the protection of their basic economic rights. Neal has been a consistent supporter of the core message of the Democratic Party. That message began with Franklin Roosevelt, carried on with Truman, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. It continues today.
Simply stated, Americans have four basic freedoms and government should defend them. They are: Freedom from fear, Freedom from want, Freedom of religious belief and Freedom of Speech. Congressman Neal's support of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, along with civil rights and civil liberties have provided tens of thousands of his constituents with genuine and practical realizations of those freedoms.
The current Republican majority in the House of Representatives does not share his view and has sought in vote after vote to repeal and dismantle Social Security and Medicare. Neal's position on the House Ways and Means Committee and his growing seniority on the committee guarantee that we will have a strong and clear voice in defense of those programs.
In terms of public works projects, Congressman Neal has been a vigorous champion for Western Massachusetts and the Commonwealth. For example, he recently helped Longmeadow get funding for its new high school and has had a hand in supporting every federally funded construction project in the area. A freshman legislator does not do this kind of work. It gets done by a man who knows his way around Washington and who knows the needs of his district.
Congressman Neal has been a persistent advocate of a rational and peaceful foreign policy. I have worked with him in a number of campaigns beginning with George McGovern's campaign of 1972 to end the Vietnam Conflict. I can attest to the fact that Neal has been an advocate for peaceful diplomacy, but has never neglected the needs of the courageous men and women that we send info harm's way. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam Conflict and now a member of the Board of Trustees of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, I have worked with him, and I know that he has a sophisticated understanding of real patriotism and genuine service in behalf of the public interest.
Congressman Neal has not pleased everyone with his record of public service to the district. That is a characteristic of democracy that some people have trouble understanding.
I do not challenge the right of Ms. Marantz's favorite candidate for Congress to make his run. She, and he, are entitled to their perspectives and philosophies. However, I do think it is unwise to turn our backs on a candidate who has served the district and us so well, for so many years.
Congressman Richard E. Neal deserves re-nomination by the Democratic Party on September 6th and re-election by the voters on November 6th.
John J. Fitzgerald
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