Joan Vennochi wrote a pretty scathing editorial of how the Patrick administration isn’t “selling” his budget. As far as I could tell, in the entire editorial she did not once critique Deval’s budget (she let the business leaders do that), but rather criticized how he was selling it. At the end she writes:
The land of the status quo is cold, stubborn, and treacherous. It is inhabited by business executives who don’t want to give up tax breaks and legislators who don’t want to give up anything. They understand political hardball, not the politics of hope.
But she doesn’t get it.
You don’t change politics as usual by making the business community your adversary. Playing hardball doesn’t mean you blast the business community for not living up to the standards of the community, you work with them and explain how his budget is good for business.
Second, yes, Patrick would need to do a better job at mobilizing the grassroots to fight for his budget — if there was a fight to be made. To me it’s clear there’s a fight brewing, but mostly the details need to be hammered out. In addition, there’s mixed reviews from the business community, as she acknowledges that some are holding out a “wait and see” policy on the Governor’s budget.
Vennochi writes that, Patrick should have “challenged the audience to let Beacon Hill power brokers know where the people stand – behind Deval Patrick.” But harnessing the grassroots ought to be done responsibly. Before he can make the ask–that we mobilize–Patrick has to first let the budget get digested. We have to know the facts of the budget before we go writing the legislature to support it. And by all accounts I think we still need to digest. That’s what a reality based grassroots movement is about. I for one am not writing my representative to support the budget until more comes out about it and we’re beyond preliminary analyses. Am I alone?
But I think more than that she misses the bigger point about his campaign and Patrick the person. Patrick has spent a good amount of his career in large organizations building a consensus, trying to find innovative solutions to problems, and dealing with conflicting interests. But more, his campaign was about engaging the community to do away with bare-knuckled “hardball.” If he went to the business community in the way she suggested — “us vs. them” to actually quote her — it would be counter to the very core of his message that we’re all in this together.
Am I alone in thinking that she’s missed the point? Sure, I’d like to see him put on more pressure to the business community to close the loopholes, but we’ve just begun the fight. As has been noted by AmberPaw this is just round one.