Entries in MassPoliticsProfs by Erin O'Brien
*If* our elected leaders on Beacon Hill want to make a statement on how gaming will be run in Massachusetts then banning ATMs would send a clear and decisive signal. And, while we are at it, let’s really go big: no alcohol on the gaming floor as the symbiotic relationship between pathological gambling and alcohol abuse is well documented.
The most popular question after all of this has been: will Elizabeth Warren run for President? For me, the more telling question is: will she influence the political parties? And there the answer turns on these broad theories of democracy. To the degree that elite theory remains inevitable, her influence will always be checked by the fact she is a rarity among Democrats and Republicans who are nearly equal in indebtedness to elite economic interests. Remember: the bill passed with ease even as both sides said they did not like the provision – a provision they added and could just as equally strip. Alternatively, if pluralism stands a chance, grassroots organizing that calls out the culpability of Democratic and Republican elected officials in these actions is necessary to help Warren permanently alter the parties.
We talk about bipartisanship a lot in government. On economic matters we have it – it just isn’t in the interest of regular folks. The divide worth naming is economic elites and their elected lackeys vs the rest of us. Who are, incidentally, the majority.
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education reports that food pantries on our public campuses are often necessary because students in the Commonwealth face the dilemma of paying for tuition and paying for a meal. This is not a uniquely Massachusetts problem but we are sadly unique in how deeply felt the problem is here.
Massachusetts residents love Beantown but understandably resent it when their own roads, infrastructure needs, and other projects run a perpetual, and distant, budgetary second place. A Boston Olympics will only exacerbate this trend.
One way to frame this year’s primary is to note that the dropoff in voting was steeper outside of Boston. In my home city of Worcester, for instance, turnout fell from 17.5 percent in 2010 (as compared to 12.4 percent statewide) and 26.6 percent in 2006 (as compared to 21.5 percent statewide) to just 14.4 percent.
The existing “rules of the game” advantage existing party structures – especially the Democrats given the make-up of Beacon Hill and our Congressional delegation. So what incentive do they have to make the change to election law – same day registration – that has the most potential to change turnout and the face of turnout in Massachusetts?
Each candidate’s base can, through rose colored glasses, claim victory. That said, this was a Martha Coakley win as she came across as decidedly more confident in policy nuance, transparency, and meaningfully connected to communities of color and women. Charlie Baker was not without moments that spoke to the independent and moderate Democratic voters central to his victory but his attempt to cast himself as the voice of middle-class voters was hurt by outsourcing, sick leave, and Ferguson responses.