Williamstown Republicans in Minority But Still Hope Voices HeardBy Stephen Dravis
03:29PM / Thursday, November 01, 2012
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In the bluest town of the bluest county in the bluest state in the nation, Kurt Gabel Jr. kind of stands out like a sore thumb ... a big, red sore thumb.
There are fewer political signs all stripes around the county this year, but even fewer Scott Brown signs in deep-blue Williamstown.
But he is not really sore about being one of the few Republicans in the overwhelmingly Democratic Village Beautiful.
In fact, he kind of chuckles when you ask him about his party's prospects locally in Tuesday's presidential election.
"We're pretty much outnumbered in this day and age," Gabel said in a telephone interview this week.
"But it wasn't always that way. ... We have voted in the past strongly Republican, and I think most of the Republicans were conservatives as well.
"But the state and everyone has swung the other way in the last 15 years."
Gabel, a Pittsfield native, is a retired teacher who taught history and government in high school.
He proudly supports "the basic Republican Party tenets," but his concerns about one-party dominance locally extend beyond his personal allegiance to the GOP.
"My big concern is that we end up without a two-party system, which gives one party free hand to do whatever they jolly well want to do," Gabel said. "That's dangerous in any society.
"I think the two-party system is important not only for Berkshire County but the state and country as a whole."
The numbers say he has an uphill battle finding support for his party.
In the 2008 election against Sen. John McCain, President Barack Obama won 53 percent of the popular vote nationwide and 62 percent of the vote in Massachusetts. Only Massachusetts towns west of the Connecticut River (Blandford, Granville, Montgomery, Southwick and Tolland) voted for McCain; none of those towns are in Berkshire County.
In Williamstown, the vote was 2,945-706 in favor of Obama, giving the former Illinois senator roughly 80 percent of the 3,700 votes cast in the town.
According to the state Republican Party website, there is not a single GOP town or city committee in Berkshire County.
"There are a few of us," Gabel said. "We don't get together and have a cup of coffee for the most part. Maybe that's something we should try to do. There are a few of us around. I guess we'll try to make our voices heard."
Gabel said he does not have much hope that the commonwealth will give its Electoral College vote to former Gov. Mitt Romney, but he is optimistic about Sen. Scott Brown's chances of holding onto his seat in a close race against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.
As for making his own voice heard, Gabel said he has never been the target of derision for espousing his minority point of view. But he has learned to pick his battles.
"I know there are some people who are pretty strong in their beliefs going the other way," he said. "I have some friends ... and one of the things I know is maybe it's better not to discuss politics with them. I'm not going to convince them, and they're not going to convince me. It's almost a moot point to discuss it."