The anger on the ground is real. The fear is real. The sense of betrayal of promises made is palpable. We must provide a practical, real alternative to the lesson people will otherwise learn: that we are no longer participants in our own future, no longer the force behind and purpose of government, that we are, in fact, powerless and inconsequential.
I firmly believe that Tuesday’s election results tell us more about the inaccessibility and inaction of the Democratic Party than a new-found conservatism in the Commonwealth. Politicians ignored large constituencies at their peril. National and state Democrats have allowed big corporate interests to dictate policy-making, despite the suffering and organizing of large numbers of us, the regular “natural persons”. If there is any hope of restoring the political arena to the people, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision, we must engage the people. They must see concrete actions and actual solutions so they have a reason to believe their vote counts on election day and their more regular participation between elections matters. It must become real again that their representatives will protect the interests of their constituents, the people, not just those of their largest contributors.
As many people know I like Deval Patrick, but he is not the governor he said he would be when we debated four years ago. He promised property tax relief – he has not even proposed it. He promised bulk buying of drugs to lower medical costs for everyone; although the laws to do this were in place before he was sworn in, he has not managed to get his own administration to implement it. And he recently signed legislation that permits the decertification of units of teacher unions in municipalities around the state. That is three examples; there are plenty more.
For good reason, the people who came out in force for him in 2006, and for Barack Obama in 2008, are disillusioned. I suspect many people reading this blog have friends who want to elect a Democratic governor in 2010, but do not believe Deval can win. I also suspect that the party “elders” will assert that I have no chance of winning – just like Martha Coakley had no chance of losing. We can prove them wrong.
Lastly – why would I consider running as a Democrat, particularly when the party is, as a friend suggested, “damaged”? I have been outside the major parties because they have moved away from the centrality of regular people’s issues. Jack Cafferty of CNN recently argued that “Both parties stink. Our government is broken and no longer serves the needs of the people.” If I run as an independent, that would be more representative of the frustration expressed in Tuesday’s vote, but I cannot fix the government by myself. If I run as a Democrat, that would allow me to combat the broken structure, with the help of the many folks already in state government who are dedicated to serving the people. Many Democratic friends have urged me to throw my hat in the ring, but so have my Republican, Green and unenrolled friends. The decision I and my team make will be based on how I can best serve all of the people of the Commonwealth.
Grace C Ross