This is the sixth installment in the Harvard Political Review‘s interview series with Massachusetts’ candidates for governor. Scott Lively is currently a full-time pastor running as an independent candidate. He has claimed close alignment with biblical principles throughout the campaign, ranging from his faith-based economic policy to his “[deep concern] for those who self-identify as homosexuals.”
Harvard Political Review: Why are you running for Massachusetts Governor? What goals do you hope to accomplish by your candidacy?
Scott Lively: I grew up here in Massachusetts, born and raised in Shelburne Falls, and I believe the Commonwealth has dramatically deteriorated in terms of the quality of life, economics, and just about every other standard of measure, and I believe that it is because we have abandoned a biblical worldview. My purpose is to be in the political process to articulate that biblical worldview so that people can see the contrast.
HPR: What would you say to the criticism that your platform appears to consist solely of social issues like abortion and gay marriage?
SL: Well, I disagree. I have a broad range of issues that I address, my first debate in the campaign was on criminal justice at Harvard Law School. I wrote a paper on that, I have papers on economics, I take a strong position on the Second Amendment, which I favor. I have a position on all the issues, not just the social issues. In my view, the more guns in the hands of responsible citizens, the safer everyone is not just from criminals, but from any power, foreign or domestic, that would seek to subjugate us as a people.
HPR: Unemployment continues to be a problem that disproportionately affects Western Massachusetts. What would you do to create jobs in this region?
SL: I believe in a limited government of delegated powers, delegated by the people, and that with the maximum amount of personal liberty, within reasonable moral parameters, [that] type of context produces the greatest amount of security and prosperity that any society can have. One of the reason why I think the [United States] has achieved the high point of civilization, up until recent decades [when] we’ve been in decline … is the abandonment of a biblical worldview and the embrace of a culturally Marxist worldview that is statist in orientation, is focused on big government, and that system doesn’t work.
HPR: With the poverty rate at a 15 year high of 11.9 percent, what more can be done to lower rates of homelessness in Massachusetts and relocate homeless families?
SL: I think that homelessness is a problem. I think there are multiple factors. I think the number one factor is the breakdown of the natural family. We used to have a society that valued father-led nuclear families. And in the years that we did value that as a standard, we did not have these problems. In addition to this, and I believe this is also a symptom of the breakdown of the family, we have an enormous amount of substance abuse, mental health problems, and criminal behavior and that these have all come together to produce the perfect storm of instability in the lives of the citizens of the commonwealth. And a great many of them just can’t cope with life.
I run an inner-city mission in Springfield. My wife and I moved here in 2008, I shut down my law practice in Southern California to be a missionary. We came to Springfield, we live in the inner-city ourselves, and we serve the constituency, our church and mission serve homeless, mentally ill, people in various stages of recovery from substance abuse. So this is something I deal with everyday. I was homeless myself at one time. I was an alcoholic and a drug addict for 16 years from the time I was 12 years old. And I hitch-hiked all over the United States, I slept in missions, I begged for money in the streets. I lived that life myself, and in 1996 I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and had a complete and total miraculous transformation, never had another desire to drink or take drugs ever again. I’m a pastor, I’m an attorney, I have global credentials in standing for family values, and I’ve dedicated my life to helping people who are in the situation I was in. So I know this subject more than any of the other candidates.
HPR: Even though independent and third party candidates rarely win major campaigns, even in Massachusetts, how do you hope your candidacy will affect the political conversation? Also, if you aren’t running to win this year’s election, do you plan to run again in the future?
SL: I don’t expect to win the election, I think that would be a complete miracle, I do believe in miracles, but I don’t expect to win. People are going to see a perspective that no other candidate is articulating, and that’s always a good thing. The marketplace of ideas is very healthy, and in Massachusetts, it’s really been a one party system, a Democratic, one party system in which Republicans are competing with the Democrats. I’ll just be real straightforward, and this is another example where only a person like myself, running as an independent, can say this: the only way conservatives are ever going to have any power in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is if they are willing to be the spoilers and prevent the Republican candidate from winning, intentionally. They have to show that they have the power and the will to prevent the “RINOs” [Republicans In Name Only] from winning, and if they do that, and demonstrate that they are willing to do that again in the next election cycle, then they have the chance to go from spoilers to king makers, because at that point, the Republican Party will be forced to put forward a candidate that actually reflects their values.
Then there can be a real debate in the commonwealth about philosophy, the principles that conservatism stands on. Finally, in this election, you have three independent candidates. My number one goal is to get elected which I don’t expect to happen. My number two goal is to prevent Charlie Baker from winning in order to punish the GOP. I would be willing to run again a second time for the same purpose of trying to force the GOP to run a values candidate instead of another liberal.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Image credit: Dr. Scott Lively for Governor of Massachusetts