After election, Mass. can be beacon of light

Civility and respect, not fear, should be the watchwords

OVER THE LAST week I have heard many heart-wrenching stories about children and adults expressing their sadness and fear based on the results of the national election. It is natural to feel sad and disappointed when your candidate doesn’t win. It is not typical though, in our country, to feel fearful at the end of an election. But because of the repeated expression of bigoted views about women, racial minorities, people of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths, immigrants, members of the LGBT community, and people with disabilities, many people are fearful about the future.

While bigoted words and incivility in public discourse are out of line in and of themselves, the greater threat is that they may create a false belief that now there is license to do something even worse in our communities and in our public policy: commit bigoted deeds.

The election is over, and as Americans have done for centuries we must unite and move together into the future. As we do so, the members of the Massachusetts Senate want to be clear. Our unshakable support for the civil rights and civil liberties of the people of the Commonwealth drives our commitment to protecting and promoting the dignity, safety, and the well-being of all who live in and visit Massachusetts, including those who were targets during the presidential campaign.

We pledge to use the power invested in us by the voters and our constitution to pursue and protect policies consistent with the fundamental principles of our country. Our constitution was based upon the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, which states in Article I:

“All people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties… Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.”

The standing laws of the Commonwealth reflect our founding principles of liberty and equality, inclusion, and respect for diversity. As a Commonwealth, we maintain a deep commitment not just to ourselves and to our families, but to others. To those who feel threatened by recent events, be assured that our belief remains steadfast: Everyone is entitled to the same rights and protections, and we will stand by your side to uphold the law.

As elected officials in Massachusetts, we are mindful of the long legacy of state and nation building from the earliest days with President John Adams to modern times with President John F. Kennedy. The actions we undertake here as a Commonwealth are consistent with our values. Our actions today may well resonate throughout our country as they have in the past. As President Kennedy said about our Legislature when he spoke to a joint session on the eve of his inaugural in 1961:

“Its leaders have shaped our destiny long before the great republic was born. Its principles have guided our footsteps in times of crisis as well as in times of calm. Its democratic institutions – including this historic body – have served as beacon lights for other nations as well as our sister states. For what Pericles said to the Athenians has long been true of this Commonwealth: ‘We do not imitate—for we are a model to others.’”

Meet the Author

Stanley Rosenberg

Former state senator, Massachusetts Senate
We will continue to provide leadership and will strive to maintain our place in history as a beacon of light, keeping the fundamental principles upon which our Commonwealth was founded as vital and alive today and moving together into the future as they have ever been. We urge President-elect Trump, and all people of good will, to fulfill our country’s commitment to open-minded, compassionate, and fair government, and to respect and serve the diversity of all of humanity. That is who we are in Massachusetts, and who we are in all of America.

Stanley Rosenberg is president of the Massachusetts Senate.