Oh my, our cup runneth over here in ProgBlogistan. One has always heard the complaint that good and smart people just don’t run for office, that we leave the most important jobs to the hacks, who are bums, and we should throw the bums out QED.
On the other hand, within the last 6+ years in Massachusetts, we’ve elected a couple of outsiders — Deval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren — people with excellent professional qualifications but who were not part of a pre-existing power structure — who were most definitely not next in line.
And now we’re hearing that Donald Berwick wants to get in the governor’s race? Don Berwick is the Elizabeth Warren of health care: One of the country’s foremost experts on health care costs, he was nominated to run Medicare, was blocked by a GOP Senate minority, and recess-appointed by President Obama. Berwick’s ordeal was proof-positive that the GOP cares a lot more about political demagoguery and clumsy opportunism than actually controlling entitlement spending — which is what Berwick would have tried to do.
And now he’s trying to find a way back into public life:
“I had this experience in Washington running CMS and got both impressed and saw dysfunction and what can go wrong in government,” Berwick said. As a pediatrician, Berwick said, he cares “deeply” about kids and the future of the state’s youth and believes the state “can do tremendous things to help in that area.”
“I think Massachusetts is already in the lead. It’s already doing good things and the country badly needs a state to surge ahead and show leadership,” Berwick said.
Well THAT would be interesting — an absolute platinum-standard wonk running for top office. Look, Charlie Baker’s a decently smart guy and all (not like you could tell that from his gov run), but at heart he’s an executive who bleeds green. Berwick’s the real deal, an actual empiricist. (Hey Don, what do you say about climate?)
… And as if that weren’t enough, David Bernstein finds the Rabbi Jonah Pesner thinking of jumping into the Senate race:
Pesner, formerly a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel, is senior vice president of the national Union of Reform Judaism, and founding chair of JOIN for Justice. He has also served in Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) leadership, and co-chaired its campaign health care reform, leading to the2006 state law.
His involvement with GBIO “changed everything,” Pesner says. “It was all grassroots campaigning, joining hands with our congregations, to stand with them on behalf of our shared values. It was religion at its best.”
I got to hear Pesner speak a number of times working with GBIO back in 2004 and 2005. He gave the invocation at Patrick’s inaugural in 2007. He’s a moral visionary, one who speaks of justice like it should mean everything in the world. I’m for Markey, but having folks like Jonah Pesner around is all to the good. I know Markey knows the words, but Pesner knows the tune.
Now, politics is business, and it’s a profession just like anything else: There’s a process, there are relationships, things that work and things that don’t, and experience counts. I don’t deny that for a moment.
But citizenship, broad life experience, public service, and idealism count, too. We’ve got to find a way to integrate these folks into our positions of leadership.
(Why can’t we have a few more Senate seats in MA? We haven’t even had three since RFK went to New York … )