American jitters

By EDITORIAL  |  October 6, 2010

Obama, for his part, has failed to make the political case for what he and the Democrats have achieved. This failure is so bizarre as to be incomprehensible, inexplicable.

Most bizarre of all, however, is that anyone who voted to elect President Obama, no matter how pissed off or disappointed in him one may be, would even think about either sitting out the midterm elections or vote to restore political power to the Republicans who brought us this mess and who, through their obdurate anti-Obama positions — as the "Party of No" — have exacerbated our nation's social and economic difficulties. For Democrats and independents, this would be an act rising to criminal negligence.

Closer to home
Here in Massachusetts, incumbent governor Deval Patrick seems to be threading the needle with some success, certainly more effectively than his friend in the White House. An apparent dead duck two years ago, Patrick at this writing enjoys a modest lead in the polls. If he does manage to win re-election, it will be because he managed to convey a sense of the punishing complexity of our problems. Patrick is not offering easy answers or many specifics. But by focusing on concrete achievements such as those in education reform, he is demonstrating that when the problems seem insurmountable, solid values can help sort through the pain. And there is little doubt that there is more pain on the way.

Large numbers of people have felt for years that they were not getting sufficient value for their tax dollars and that state government is — to put it mildly — less than efficient. But people also realize that cutting 5000 state jobs (as Republican candidate Charlie Baker has proposed) might ease one set of perceived problems, but contribute to the crisis by upping the unemployment rolls.

One of the reasons that the campaigns of Baker and Independent Tim Cahill have not achieved — at least yet — the traction that their supporters had hoped for is that they spend too much time talking about how they would have done things differently in the past. When it comes to their plans for the future, however, they are even more vague than Patrick. And in these jittery times, anyone with half a brain knows that it is the future that counts.

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