Curious thing about the convention: It gathers more of the major Massachusetts Democrats in one place than just about any event in Massachusetts — including the Mass Dems convention. We ran into State Rep. and State Senate candidate Jamie Eldridge at the MA Dems breakfast this morning, and he was gracious enough to talk with us:
I asked Jamie, You're 1,500 miles from your district. [I was wrong — it's over 1,900.] What do you hope to get out of the convention this year? Jamie wants to bring back some of the excitement about Obama, a candidate who wants to end the war in Iraq, and who campaigns on economic justice and access to health care. He points out that activists are coming together here, and they're going to need to continue to pressure a President Obama on those issues.
I asked Jamie, What's in it for us locally if Obama wins the presidency? Jamie expects more help from the federal government in paying for health care, commuter rail, education, and environmental protection. Jamie thinks there's a “direct connection” between these priorities being squeezed, and the $2 trillion war in Iraq. “That's one of the big reasons why I was an early supporter of Senator Obama.”
Speaking of activists keeping pressure on a prospective Obama administration, I asked Jamie what issues he would press. He's concerned about issues of free trade, and would like to make “improvements” to NAFTA, and is concerned about free trade agreements with other Central- and South American countries. He would like to see environmental and worker protections built into these trade agreements. He mentioned Gillette moving 400 jobs to Mexico as a local issue with global resonance.
I asked Jamie what lessons the next President and Congress can learn from our health care law. Jamie notes that most of the newly covered people under the Massachusetts law are under MassHealth — an expansion of the public program. Eldridge points out that that's the way to get people into a system that's more efficient, and with which people tend to be more satisfied.
What's Denver got to do with it? Can anyone really contend that there's no local relevance to what's going on here?