Friday marked another chapter of the Climate Strike: Hundreds of young folks went to the State House and camped outside the Governor’s office to call for 100% renewable energy and stepped-up efforts to slash greenhouse emissions. The Globe’s Zoe Greenberg had an excellent, context-rich retelling, giving an overview of the bills involved, the players inside and out of the State House — and very critically, the stakes involved. Kudos for good reporting. Rather than quoting at too too great length here, I’ll just encourage the gentle reader to go and read and subscribe.
The students have set their sights on a group of bills they see as essential to a Massachusetts Green New Deal, especially one requiring the state to get all its energy from renewable sources by 2045. They danced, chanted, and criticized what they described as the plodding pace of progress in the Legislature, urging immediate, aggressive action from the Democrats in charge.
… The Boston rally began at Copley Square and ended inside the State House, where a crowd of activists chanted at the doors to Governor Charlie Baker’s office. Twenty seven people, all over age 18, were arrested for refusing to leave, State Police said.
Charlie Baker wouldn’t address the group personally. He won’t go out and meet young people who are literally fighting for a planet to live on. But he will consent to have 27 of them — 27! — arrested.
This is a pattern, isn’t it? What is he, the Great and Mighty Oz?
- Baker won’t take the MBTA, because that’s just “virtue signaling” and completely beneath him — like the people who ride it in ever-deteriorating conditions. He works a half-block from a T station.
- Baker won’t meet with South Shore resident Andrea Honoré, who sat outside his office at lunch for 200+ days to talk to him about the Weymouth Compressor; and when finally confronted, complained to her, “You have been so brutal to me, I have nothing to say to you.”
- Baker won’t meet with young people about slashing emissions, but he will allow 27 of them to be arrested.
To me, it is of a piece with his seeing riding the T as a sort of fake act, rather than the act of a fellow citizen who happens currently to be serving as Governor.
— Tracy O’Connell Novick (@TracyNovick) December 7, 2019
What the Governor calls “virtue signaling”, we used to just call “leading by example”. Or “showing up.” No, His Excellency the Governor big-times us all. He’s got better things to do, you see.
This is a political culture that once properly took Martha Coakley to task, for her mocking the idea that one should shake hands with people in the cold. It somewhat less properly called out Deval Patrick as “tone deaf” for ordering some décor and a new car. There’s a trigger wire on this kind of thing that sometimes gets tripped in the public consciousness, and I find it suspicious when we see someone in power getting away with really outrageous, finger-in-the-eye snubs. Why is he so special?
I’m making a substantive argument here: We should be doing much more, everything the Sunrise Movement asks, to cut emissions. We should be aggressively building a 21st century, low-emissions, efficient and just transportation system. The governor’s efforts are flat, slow, and inadequate on both — QED.
But accountability is political, and that means tending to appearances: Baker looks terrible for ignoring people! He shouldn’t do that! How is he possibly getting away with it?