I have to admit that I can finally pity myself for being classified as a discriminated minority. In full disclosure, I am left handed, Jewish and a Republican on the University of Massachusetts campus, though I’m not homosexual or a 31-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives. As Rep. Barney Frank’s new biography “Barney Frank: The Story of America’s Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman,” by Stuart E. Weisberg – published by the University of Massachusetts Press – would make you believe, being a white, Harvard-educated, millionaire, left-handed Jew poses significant challenges for those running for political office.
As you might be aware, Barney Frank, from Massachusetts 4th district; the hilariously gerrymandered district that stretches from South Boston, Brookline and Newton, to New Bedford and the heel of the Cape, is scheduled to make an appearance at UMass on the 16th, promoting his biography and addressing students on campus. There is no doubt, Congressman Frank will be as condescending to UMass students who politely disagree with his extremist agenda as he has done on numerous occasions in the past to his constituents.
There are a lot of opinions about Barney Frank out there. He is without a doubt one of the most well-known members of the House. His diatribes appear in all forms of media, not only in Massachusetts but throughout the country. “Barney Frank is a masterful legislator and one of the great political minds of our generation. His style – principled but pragmatic, tenacious yet fair, and always brilliant and funny – has won him the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Stuart Weisberg’s lively biography of Barney Frank documents all of these extraordinary qualities, and the many ways in which he enriches our democracy.”
This quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is only one of many brown-nosing comments that could be found online. I beg to differ. Aside from the socialist Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders or the false Republican libertarian Congressman Ron Paul, few across any aisles, whether in the Senate or the House, would consider Barney Frank more seriously than even vilely ineffective Sen. Al Franken, whose election is the product of a comedic act gone horribly wrong.
Though well known, a majority of Barney Frank’s attention is received because of his rude and ridiculous comments to his constituents and the press. As prevalent as liberal elitism is among the Democrats, Barney Frank has a vast record of contempt for voters even within his own constituency. Though, in my opinion, his attack on the Lyndon LaRouche supporter, who compared President Obama to Hitler, was warranted, it should be an important ethical rule for politicians not to insult any regular constituent, no matter how stupid their question might be. Brushing off and moving to the next comment would have been the more prudent thing to do.
Though back on topic. Barney Frank is a minority, because he is openly gay in Congress. The peculiarity of this strikes me because it seems that there are more gay politicians being discovered in the Republican Party than those that get elected by the party of tolerance: the Democrats. This makes Barney Frank one of, if not the most, influential gay politicians. This seems to give Frank the idea that he is the sole possessor of the bully pulpit in regards to homosexual civil rights activism. Because of his extraordinary disdain for voters, he is one of the leaders in the charge to make gay rights a Supreme Court issue, which in itself is logical due to it’s effect on the African American Civil Rights movement in numerous landmark cases. But as recent events have shown, it is political suicide to make voters seem like their power to decide is being taken away from them. Scott Brown’s recent victory is representative of the concerns of many voters that the Democrats pushing health care in Congress have disenfranchised them, pushing a mediocre policy based solely on their political capital. In today’s America, voter influence is extremely important, as demonstrated by the power of political TV and radio pundits along with referendums such as California’s Prop 8. The people don’t like being bypassed in the political process. Even opponents of Prop 8 realized the battle could only be won with public support. Prop 8 opponents used celebrities to campaign for their cause. Barney Frank’s abrasiveness and unwillingness to refer to the voters will invariably cause the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) movement to fail if he succeeds in setting their agenda.
It is surprising to me that a man with such a shady past could be considered a viable politician on the national level. During the 1980s, Barney Frank housed a prostitute at his Washington residence. It was later discovered that the prostitute, Steve Gobie, ran his business from Frank’s house. In an investigation, Barney Frank claimed he did not know about the business, and kicked Gobie out when he discovered what was happening. Congress bought this argument; although Frank was reprimanded for using his congressional office – and stationary – to influence the state of Virginia to forgive Gobie’s parking tickets. Not knowing that a prostitution ring is being run from your own house requires, if I may quote another prominent Democrat, Hillary Clinton, “a willing suspension of disbelief.”
This University does not need any more liberal elitism and condescension, though I doubt anyone will question or protest his visit. The Republican Club is completely decimated by poor leadership – while they may have protested against such a speaker in previous years, they’ll probably stand idly by. It seems that the club has lost all its will for activism, aside from the invitation of David Horowitz to speak on Feb. 23, which I hope does not fall through like the rest of their events this year. The club has recently been liberal enough that it was joked on UMass’ WMUA radio station that Charlie Felder, current UMass Democrats president, took over for the Republican Club.
Dmitriy Shapiro is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.