84°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Get out and vote: Examining Geoff Diehl

Headshot of Geoff Diehl.
Headshot of Geoff Diehl. Photo sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Everybody must vote! We are coming up on our next midterm election, and it’s a big one. While the Massachusetts elections may seem like a foregone conclusion, as I said in our previous edition, recent events have reinforced the fact that local politics are unpredictable and crucial. Last week, I presented a general rundown of Democrat candidate Maura Healey’s past and policies; this week, I am doing the same for Republican Geoff Diehl.
So, who is Geoff Diehl? Well, Diehl seems to be a study of just how unique Republican politics in Massachusetts usually is. He comes from a decidedly Democratic family, and in fact, claims he “used to be a Democrat,” according to an article on Boston.com. Evidently, Pres. Obama’s support of higher taxes on the very rich was “like the last straw,” as he told WBUR. Bucking typical stereotypes of conservative politicians, he and his wife run a performing arts company, and Diehl himself has been fairly pro-renewable energy. He was, in fact, on the state’s Global Warming and Climate Change committee, though it is unclear exactly what sort of role he played. Yet, he retains many traditional, conservative values as well—he met his wife on a blind date mere months before getting married, and is a stock-typical “family values” kind of guy. He also describes himself as a “conservative-libertarian.”
In terms of experience, he differs greatly from Maura Healey. He has only been in professional politics for about eight years, as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and left politics in 2019, not long after losing the senate race against Elizabeth Warren by a huge margin. But conservatives tend to see business ownership as a marker of administrative and political competency, and Diehl has run that performing arts company with his wife for quite a while. I’m often pretty skeptical of this sort of thinking—after all, running our school like a business has led to innumerable problems, let alone running a whole state or country like one—though I also understand that decades in politics can calcify politicians’ will to create real change.
We’ll go over our Republican candidate’s policies in just a bit, but first, let’s get to the crux of the deal with Diehl—what everybody is talking about. Yes, indeed, he is endorsed by Donald Trump, and he does seem to be supportive of the former president. He is pretty cagey about the election-denial stuff, but it’s clear that he purports to believe there were issues and inconsistencies with the vote. As an article from WBUR points out, he once told his supporters, “it was highly suspicious that in the 2020 election, five states stopped counting ballots at 10:00 p.m.” It seems to me that Diehl wants to play the middle ground here—between fantasy and reality. Clearly, he is trying to appeal to election-denying Trump supporters, without losing too many of the more reasonable Republicans and Independents in an extremely liberal state. What he truly believes is a mystery, yet any implied support of election conspiracies is downright dangerous.
Now, let’s tackle his policies. Judging by his website, Diehl is running on a platform of 10 main points. A few of them are boilerplate, conservative fare. He, of course, makes quite a bit of hay about supporting businesses, job creation and entrepreneurship, as well as the typical “fiscal responsibility,” balance-the-budget stuff. He also says he will be “getting tough on crime,” along with being unwaveringly supportive of law enforcement. He also doesn’t support undocumented immigrants getting driver’s licenses, though granting undocumented people driver’s licenses would likely make our famously aggressive and jam-packed roads safer. Traditional conservatives should be pretty happy with this picture overall.
However, some policies are, as I mentioned before, a bit atypical for a Republican candidate in any other state outside of Massachusetts. Diehl advocates for “a greater commitment to renewable energy,” though he also emphasizes “energy independence”—a buzzword that can often involve a greater reliance on natural gas, so environmentalists beware. He does include “measures to safeguard coastal and other environmentally-sensitive areas” as a point of its own, though, and has expressed support for making electric vehicles more accessible. Evidently, even Republicans cannot get far in Massachusetts without environmental policy. This is a good thing as I see it.
He also includes a point on housing affordability, typically a progressive bread-and-butter issue. But when asked about concrete plans by Boston.com, he gave one of the lengthiest non-answers I’ve read in a long time. This seems to be a theme actually; Diehl is generally pretty cagey, as I’ve already mentioned, about his more extreme right-wing views. When Boston.com reporters asked him multiple times to clarify his plans for abortion laws in the state—Diehl is staunchly pro-life—he went on and on about how the state legislature is the lawmaking entity, and he, as governor, wouldn’t step in the way of that. He slung some whataboutism about vaccines, and railed against Elizabeth Warren’s fight against misleading advertising and anti-abortion pregnancy clinics—while painting her efforts in a misleading light, I might add.
This is worrying to me because it seems clear that Diehl is purposefully obfuscating his plans on the abortion issue. There is plenty a governor can do to influence lawmaking in their state, and it would be naive to believe that Geoff Diehl will sit back and let the Democrat-controlled legislature keep him from working his will. He is very open about getting tough on other state legislative actions—Diehl is anti-mask and vaccine mandates, and speaks pretty aggressively about usurping the legislature’s decisions in these regards. He talks frequently about hiring back those fired due to unwillingness to mask up or vaccinate themselves, as well as ridding the state of such mandates.
Actually, he seems to be pretty anti-mask as a rule, extending beyond simply getting rid of mandates. “No more putting masks on kids in schools,” he told cheering supporters at one event. It’s interesting that Diehl trots out the popular conservative line about “empowering parents”—despite seeming to want no option at all on masking. He also complains about “teaching our children to be ashamed to be Americans,” which clearly is a reference to Critical Race Theory. We should be absolutely clear about this—Critical Race Theory is a graduate school level research paradigm and is not taught in any other context. Honesty about our history is not radical. And the 1919 project—while it has indeed been embroiled in credible accusations of historical dishonesty—is not CRT, not any worse than the kind of propagandized history we currently get in schools, and is tailored to be appropriate to whatever specific grade level it is being introduced to.
To sum things up, Geoff Diehl seems to be as much of a Trump-Republican as you’ll get in the final round of a Massachusetts gubernatorial election. The base of his platform is typical for a Massachusetts conservative, but with that, we get a good dollop of the more far-right, pet-issue stuff. With that in mind, paired with the comparative lack of experience and the results of his 2018 bid for senator, it may seem like a longshot for Diehl; but only time will tell.
I hope that this rundown was helpful to everyone reading this, and I hope it encourages you to do some research of your own, and go out to vote! It’s incumbent on all of us as students to be the change we want to see, and to take part in our democracy. All the UMass campuses have joined the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge to register student voters and get them to the polls. If you do not know if you are registered, need to register, want to sign up for vote-by-mail or learn how to vote from out-of-state for your own state’s elections, visit Massachusetts.edu/umass-votes for information and resources.

About the Contributor
James Cerone, Opinions Editor