It was quite an extraordinary sight. Governor Patrick walked into the Big Tent, to the reaction you would expect — a surge in hubbub, a round of applause, and a crush of folks looking for a quick photo, video, or question. He made his way over to the table we had set up, we all shook hands, and then we began.
The Gov sat down at my computer, which I had logged into the new “Governor Deval Patrick” account we created earlier today. He is computer literate and types rapidly, but had never blogged before, so I quickly walked him through the basics — “Post a Comment,” “Reply,” “Preview,” all the soapblox stuff you all are familiar with. And then we were off and running.
As soon as word got out that the Governor was actually blogging, there was something of a media frenzy here — dozens of people, including some from the national and international media, lined up to capture this remarkable and, we believe, unprecedented event.
At the beginning, it was slow-ish going, as the Governor got used to the soapblox interface. (Also, the Governor is a stickler for grammar — you will notice in his posts a relative lack of typos and other evidence of carelessness so common in blogging.) But by the end of his time here (about 40 minutes), he had the hang of it, and seemed very much at home as he ran through as many questions as he had time for.
Also interesting was the fact that, after the initial surge of interest in a prominent elected official blogging in a public place, most of the folks here went back to whatever they were doing before. And so, aside from a couple of Massachusetts natives who stopped by to say hello (which seemed to please Governor Patrick), for much of the time he sat here blogging away, just like everyone else in the room.
Talk about civic engagement. The Governor — not his staff, not his press people, but the Governor himself — was logged into a website started by, and now read and populated by, people who blog for only one reason: they care enough about politics and the political process to take the time to read, write, learn, debate, and participate. The Governor responded directly to questions from several of those people today by typing out the answers on this very keyboard.
It took a lot of guts for Governor Patrick, fresh off a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, to come to a public place like this and jump into a new form of engaging directly with his constituents. That’s the guy I voted for. Here’s hoping that he comes back soon!