APUSH and Politics: Donald Humason and Colonial Massachusetts

Alice Wanamaker, Editor-in-Chief

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Note: Welcome to APUSH and Politics, a new column in which I connect current political issues to whatever Ms. Brown is teaching us in AP U.S. History.

If you know my family in person, you’ve probably seen the series of postcards my mother has sent to State Senator Humason in the past weeks. She’s been reliably sending them for months, and has yet to receive a response. (UPDATE: After several months, Humason responded and asked to meet with her.)

The postcards are in response to Humason’s stance on Question 3, whether to keep our legal protection against discrimination for transgender people. Humason voted against these measures, which we disagree with for many reasons (evidence shows that safety in bathrooms has not decreased at all since these measures have been put into place; they serve only to make groups in need of protection safer). However, his stance is not the reason for my mother’s campaign.

The senator’s long-term argument for his stance is that it is the only perspective he has heard on the issue. My good friend, Aidan Chappuis, wrote a brilliant op-ed in the Gazette about why this is not a valid argument in this situation, but besides that issue, Humason’s statement is also a lie. When he visited the We The People class last year, they asked him about the issue. Furthermore, my other mom sat down with him at his office hours last year and had an hour-long conversation with him about it.

During this conversation, he told her that he ‘didn’t need Easthampton’, meaning that the district is large enough that he can get elected without our support. That’s not how democracy works. Even if he has the numbers to get elected without supporters from Easthampton, his job in office is to represent us. This statement shows that he values the power he holds over the responsibilities of public office

In pre-revolutionary Massachusetts, a time would come when a town became too large for everyone to have a say in local government. People on the outside were too far away from the center to participate in town meetings, and only those who lived in the center were elected into office. To solve this problem, the edges of towns would split from the center and form their own governments, in which they were integral to the happenings and their elected officials could not afford to ignore them.

I am not advocating for Easthampton splitting from the district Humason represents. My point is that my generation, and possibly the ones before me, tend to think of our systems of government as static and immobile. In reality, our country is built on the premise that the opposite is true. The United States, and Massachusetts in particular, has a long history of making changes when our elected officials are not listening. We do not take things lying down.

Being told by our representative that he can afford to ignore us infuriates me. I hope it infuriates you, too. I believe that most politicians would have the strength of character to listen to and consider the perspective of all their constituents, even those they could theoretically choose to ignore. However, if our leaders fail us, we do not have to accept it. We can vote them out, or we can go even more radical.

Senator Humason, do your job. If you don’t, things will change.