Progressive and reform-minded voters have two excellent choices in next week’s Democratic primary for governor: Chris Gabrieli and Deval Patrick. Each would offer voters clear and welcome choices in the final election against Republican Kerry Healey and Independent Christy Mihos. And both Gabrieli and Patrick hold the promise of serving with distinction should either win the final vote in November. But now that the choice is only days away, we urge voters to cast their ballots for Deval Patrick.
If political campaigns foreshadow how candidates would govern, then Patrick would be ambitious and energetic, principled and focused. He began his race for the Democratic slot on the November ballot as a long-shot outsider, someone who had the guts to challenge the go-along-to-get-along elements of the party who were — and are — more interested in patronage and spoils than in ideas and change.
Patrick beat the so-called wise guys, the insiders, at their own game: first by dominating the statewide caucuses and then by winning the state convention. If he is able to win Tuesday’s primary, as we hope he will, his victory will go a long way toward demonstrating to the people of Massachusetts that it’s time to terminate the 16-year lease the Republicans have held on the governor’s office.
With every passing month of lame-duck Republican Mitt Romney’s continued rule, Massachusetts sinks deeper and deeper into political torpor: roads and bridges fall into greater disrepair, the education system begs for an infusion of energy, population migrates elsewhere, and economic development suffers. It’s time to get Massachusetts moving again, to re-harness its brainpower, to realize its potential.
For too many years, politics in Massachusetts has been a blame-game. The horizons have been low and ambitions have been even lower. Patrick promises to try to change that. It’s a tall order, for sure. And he can’t do it alone. But betting on Patrick is a wager worth making. He has a concept of public service that is ennobling. In today’s shallow and cynical world, that may sound corny. But locally — as well as nationally — politics and government could benefit from a renewed sense of idealism and purpose.
As impressive as the technical virtuosity of the Patrick campaign is, it is by inspiring people from different walks of life and from disparate corners of the state to re-engage in public life that the campaign is accomplishing its goals and hitting its targets. A key reason, perhaps the key reason, the Phoenix is urging a vote for Patrick is that we hope, we believe, his ability to build a statewide coalition for change will resonate on Beacon Hill and translate into quantifiable, bankable policies.
The truth of the matter is that a Democratic state legislature may be better than a Republican one, but the track record of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts is, to put it politely, heartbreaking; to put it more graphically, it is piss poor.
If a Democratic governor is going to gain the trust of suburban independents who fear the prospect of hacks run amok, he’s not only going to have to lead public opinion, he’s going to have to tangle with the legislature. And that will be a formidable test of political will and imagination.