We’re rounding into October. I note with bafflement the recent polls that show that Charlie Baker is doing quite well in the polls among Democrats. And I’m at pains to point out that if Charlie Baker were a Democrat, we’d be viewing him as quite a disappointment:
- He refuses to fund public transit. Without funding, everything that he’s done with the T is window-dressing — a Potemkin village performance aimed at people who don’t take the T.
- He refuses to fund universal pre-K, which is a universally-acknowledged policy slam-dunk: For economic equity; for gender equity; for children; for parents; the economy at large.
- … But somehow he found $112 million in state tax breaks for GE, which recently changed CEOs (again) and lost $140 BILLION in market capitalization in 2017. Believe me, I’m rooting for GE as a major renewable energy manufacturer. But public money should be spent on public goods, not tax breaks for corporations.
- Baker refuses to protect immigrants from the snatches and snares of ICE. He could have supported the Safe Communities Act; instead he runs down immigrants in his speeches. It’s an applause line for him, even in the cruel and fascist age of Trump. In one his most unconscionable, inhumane moments, he resisted allowing Syrian refugees into the state. I won’t forget that betrayal of simple humanity; that’s when he lost me for good.
- Baker has not led on equitable school funding; he did not call for immediate passage of the Foundation Budget Reform Commission recommendations. He could have! He just has decided not to.
- He has presided over massive job losses in the solar sector for two years. This is not an accident – it is the predictable outcome of policies enacted by Baker’s industry-cozy appointments to the Department of Public Utilities. (Finally this may be coming to an end – but what took so long? Why must we beg for clean energy, which is exceptionally popular?)
I’d like to point to Miles Howard’s little Tweetstorm – it’s a nice precis of Baker’s failings:
Dear liberal America. There are a few things I’d like to say about Gov Charlie Baker, in light of his signing our state’s first automatic voter registration bill today and being championed by national media. Am I happy he signed the bill? Yes. However, it’s complicated… #mapoli
— Miles Howard (@MilesPerHoward) August 10, 2018
… and his conclusion from a WBUR piece from nearly a year ago — even more poignant after the legislative failures of Robert DeLeo’s House, which did not benefit from any leadership or prodding by the governor:
As a Massachusetts resident proud to hail from the state whose past governors have led the nation on issues like health care access, same-sex marriage and progressive taxation, Baker’s popularity not only mystifies me — it scares me. It suggests that a historically bold and visionary state is now surrendering its principles to the convenience of relativism in the age of Donald Trump. We are deceiving ourselves with the notion that the governor’s office is insignificant enough to be occupied by a man lacking in vision and courage.
I’d put it a different, more succinct way: A Democrat would do better — a lot better. And Jay Gonzalez is more than decent: He’s actually running on creating a real 21st-century transit system; early childhood education; aggressive action against climate change and a clean energy conversion; single-payer health care … you know, the things you would want a Democrat to support.
It’s all there, right in the open. Why would you want to support a pale centrism of governance by band-aid and half-measure, when there’s a vigorous progressive alternative?