As a 29 year-old, ice-cream-truck-driving, U.S. Army Reservesman fresh out of Boston College Law School, Edward J. Markey first made a name for himself in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives in January 1976. He had introduced a bill forbidding district court judges from serving as part-time private attorneys, highlighting a clear conflict of interest built into the Massachusetts court system. At the time, State House Speaker Thomas McGee did not like a young gun upending the status quo in this manner, so, in a fit of frustration, he kicked Markey off the State Judiciary Committee and threw Ed’s office desk into the hall out of spite. Markey infamously countered McGee in an ad on television: “The bosses may tell me where to sit. No one tells me where to stand.”
Since that groundbreaking moment, Markey has served 37 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, seven more in the Senate, and has sponsored over 1,000 pieces of legislation with a strong passion for progressive change. Markey is up again for reelection to the Senate this November, and is being challenged in the Democratic primary, which is on Sept. 1, by Congressman Joe Kennedy III. Ed Markey is the best candidate to nominate in the primary, and here is why.
Markey has the moral compass to fight for a more equitable America. He is the founder and co-chair of the Senate Alzhiemer’s Task Force — inspired by his mother’s battle with the disease — which has allocated $156 million towards Alzhiemer’s research. Markey also consistently questions unjust social and political norms, being one of only 67 congresspeople (out of 435) to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community. We can trust Markey to stand up for what is right, even when it is not the most popular or expedient political stance, which is why he has and will continue to champion progressive legislation that increases equity for all Americans.
Markey is also in touch with his constituents, especially those here in Western Massachusetts. In May 2020, he proudly introduced the BRAIN Train Act, a plan to expand rail service connecting Springfield, Mass. to cities like New York, Albany and Boston. MassDOT is also “proposing a Berkshires Housatonic Line” that would benefit financially from Markey’s Act, and would connect Pittsfield, Mass. to New York City as well. Introduced in the House by Rep. Richard Neal (MA-01), the BRAIN Train legislation’s overall purpose is to decongest major highways, further develop local economies and support more isolated regions of the state, all of which would repair “long-standing inequities” highlighted by the coronavirus, according to a statement released by the Markey Campaign. Markey’s Massachusetts contributions are broken down by city and town here.
These facts alone negate Kennedy’s baseless claims that Markey has forgotten his Massachusetts roots because he spends “too much time in Washington,” and that he has neglected certain Massachusetts towns. Most of the towns mentioned by the Kennedy campaign were later fact-checked as non-existent, because they were actually evacuated, destroyed and flooded to make the Quabbin Reservoir in 1936 (ridiculous, I know). Markey has always stood for the people of Massachusetts, but at the same time works relentlessly to pass legislation, which requires time in Washington.
In Western Massachusetts alone, Markey has the endorsements of the North Adams, Northampton, Easthampton, Greenfield, and Pittsfield mayors, as well as Senator Elizabeth Warren and notable House Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Neal. He has also been endorsed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Boston Globe. The fact that Markey spends time in Washington is not concerning because he is there doing his job: legislating and creating positive change for Massachusetts and America as a whole. All that Kennedy is doing by running on ambition, the “young, fresh face card,” and baseless attacks is moving American’s attention away from more important Senate races this year, which is wasting everyone’s time, energy and money.
Markey is also committed to saving the planet from catastrophic global warming. In 2019, Markey, along with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, co-authored the Green New Deal, a 10 year mobilization plan that would create millions of high-paying jobs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide Medicare for All. This plan is ambitious, but, thanks to Markey, has proven effective in spurring change at the local level. Newton, Mass. has already committed to and surpassed their 2019 goal of buying renewable electricity to match at least 60 percent of their total electricity use. This passion for climate justice is not new for Markey: In 1987, he authored the Appliance Efficiency Act, which prevented hundreds of coal-fired plants from being constructed. But do not take my word for it. Look at his congressional voting record — you’ll find nothing but 37 years of strong progressive climate legislation.
Some opponents attempt to discredit Markey’s record by mentioning that he initially opposed busing to desegregate Boston area schools. However, Markey opposed busing because he wanted to prioritize financing under-funded schools, and as of 1984, Markey has supported both busing and increased funding. Some might also mention that Kennedy’s platform — with the dynasty name attached as a boost — is quite comparable to Markey’s, and the differences are not large enough to sway their vote either way. However, Markey has the experience to implement his ideas, whereas Kennedy does not, and Markey is clearly the most skilled man for the job at a time when the nation has finally caught up with his progressive thinking. We cannot afford to risk interrupting Markey’s progress if we elect Kennedy as the Democratic nominee on Sept. 1.
Kennedy represents the House district that I grew up in, MA-04, and he has been an exceptional debater and Representative, do not get me wrong. However, as Ocasio-Cortez herself says in her endorsement video for Markey, “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts. It’s the age of your ideas.” An experienced, progressive, son-of-a-milkman Senator, with ideas that can move our country forward, is what we desperately need right now for Massachusetts. The generational passing of the torch can wait on this one.
Jacob Jampel ’23 is from West Newton, Mass. and is a field fellow on the Ed Markey Campaign.