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Sept. 25, 2012 |

Fifty years ago, at age 13, inspired by President Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," I became involved with the Democratic Party. Growing up in South Holyoke, with a single mom, the Holyoke Democratic Committee was almost like a surrogate parent. From them I learned the importance of citizen responsibilities. I worked to elect Democrats, and implement Democratic principles, becoming involved in Civil Rights, neighborhood self-help groups, and the creation of youth rec/leisure and work resources. And, while I was far from rich, and not connected, I learned how even I could make a difference if I was willing to work for it. There were conflicts, as I was still from the wrong side of the tracks, and was often independent minded, more committed to the principles than to less scrupulous practices. This gave me a reputation early on as a loose cannon, not willing to go along to get along. But I gained a lot of learning that I could not get anywhere else, and a sense of purpose. In the 1970s, after serving in the Army, at Holyoke Community College, I organized a Viet Veterans group and was a liaison to Congressman Conte for Veterans' issues; and successfully organized state wide to increase Viet Vet benefits. Then, as a Trustee on the Mass. Board of Regional Community Colleges, I successfully organized state wide to take on the State legislature to restore budget cuts, stop a destructive plan to reorganize Public Higher Education, and efforts to end Lay boards. In the 90's inspired by meeting President Clinton, I became a member of the Democratic State Committee, chaired the Chicopee Democratic Committee, and later, buying a home in Westfield, chaired our Democratic City Committee, even running for State Rep and got over 6,000 votes. I say all of this because the current state of affairs in politics: the polarization, and the animosity has become intolerable. I have always been someone who valued the contributions made by others, even those with whom I disagreed. For me it is more about what we so that is food for America, not the rhetoric of fear and hate. It is not taking sides but working together to solve problems, and that cannot be done when we impugn one another. And, while I am still Pro-Democracy, and a Demand sider, I find that neither party is serving our greater good. But, I place my hope that a new force in American politics, the Centrist Independent voter, not as a political party, too easily used and co-opted but, as a force of public will, may be our nations' salvation. As such, I am announcing that I have changed my political affiliation to Independent. Here I can be more objective in taking on what I call myth-information, with real facts and associating with others with the courage to make a stand to restore confidence in our real principles of governance. Brian Hoose, Westfield

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