Safford: Bob Healey Showed One Man Can Be an Island

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As we enter in this election year there will certainly be ‘Healey-clones’ coming out of the woodwork. They’ll yearn to appeal to that 21.4% of the populace who voted for him in 2014.

Most will be opportunists. But not all.

There were so many people who were touched by his drive, and motivated into politics by his influence.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t an expose into the life and times of Bob Healey.

If you are a fan of Showtime’s Shameless, think of it as Lip’s eulogy to professor Youens. Humans leave marks on the lives of other humans and no two of those marks are ever the same.

An individual that led a life of crime could have been the best parent in the world to their child, while a decorated military general could have been looked at as a dotard by their kids.

Individualism is a Great Good

While you read this, try not to impart your memories and interpretations of a human’s impact onto the life of anyone else. That’s wrong.

My own personal experiences with the man were business related, and of a private nature. Over the last twenty years, I had more than a handful of conversations with Healey. And while the topics and opinions changed, the general theme of who he was, did not.

If you needed help getting off the ground he was there to answer your question. If you needed to be pointed in the right direction, guidance was a phone call away. If you wanted a counterpoint to your radical idea and needed to satiate your fears, he had no problem making you realize that you sound like an idiot.

There was help when help was needed but not coddling.

Humans CAN Be Islands

The one constant in Bob’s political career was that one man could be an island. John Donne was wrong. 

He was a one man political party. I hope you see the irony here.

Bob wasn’t a team effort party guy. It wasn’t  ‘let’s rally behind our champion and do this together.’ Nope. He was an individual.

How then could anyone expect to be a clone of another individual and still themselves be their own person. They can’t.

Bob joined the Moderate party for his own reasons.

Despite what anyone from his inner circle would tell you, or from the Moderate party itself, it was out of strategic necessity. The last time he ran for office under the Cool Moose Party. He ran on the platform to abolish the position he was running for–Lieutenant Governor.

Political Parties Are Means To Ends

His move over to the Moderate party and declaration as a candidate was done in the 11th hour and by no means a declaration of dedication to a political party. Therefore, the Moderate party should not be looked as a a Bob Healey platform.

I want to bring you back to the idea that this man was an individual. He didn’t need your approval to feel better about his ideas. By running for office the way he did, he was asking you to step up your brain game.

He wanted you to wake up and open your eyes to the duplicitous redundancies and cronyism going on in this state. He wanted you to see what he saw but come to your own conclusions. Make your own connections. Be yourself.

How can anyone be a clone of someone that so adamantly supported individuality? They can’t. There are no Healey clones.

What we do have is men and women inspired by an individual’s effort to do better. To be better. To be the best version of yourself. To speak your ideas without the need for validation. Be an island.

That is what I have taken from this wonderful human being. Be yourself.

Expose Corruption 

Indirectly we agreed on many things. There are too many unnecessary elements in RI governments. Too many shadowy corners where cronyism and nepotism breed. We waste money on useless endeavours as a state. We ignore the spineless actions of the cowards protecting their revenue streams. It needs to stop!

Bob Healey may not be here to run against you anymore, and the world is a lesser place because of it.

But if you are guilty of using your political position simply to put coins in pockets of the unworthy, that are closest to you, be warned. This individuals legacy has awoken the minds of many individuals in this state and taught them how to use their eyes and ears. Your shadowy corners are going to get smaller and smaller.

We need to put credit where credit is due. Getting 21.4% of a gubernatorial election for a few pennies was not a fluke it was an inspiration.

Expect to see more of these individuals rise up over the next decade. While they will never be clones they will always be ‘products of.’

James Safford
James Safford is a member of the Scituate Land Trust and Conservation Commission. He has authored multiple books and sees politics though a bipartisan viewpoint. Send him email at jamessafford@yahoo.com.
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