Entries in MassPoliticsProfs by Jerold Duquette
The drop of the Bay State from 1st to 8th in the U.S. News rankings will undoubtedly complicate Charlie Baker’s re-election effort, but it isn’t likely to cause the odds makers to move the state’s gubernatorial race from a “likely” re-election to a “toss up.” Nonetheless, it is clearly an unexpected gift to the three folks competing to be Baker’s general election foe.There is a clear lesson here to be learned (or remembered), of course...
State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose of Amherst has decided to leave the Democratic Party and become an unenrolled voter and state legislator. Interestingly, he indicated that the move will not impact his commitment to the values of the Democratic Party or his willingness to work and vote with the Democrats just as he has while a member of the party.So…what’s the point?
My advice to the Guv is to throw a “Flake.” Overnight the biggest personal check the law allows to Doug Jones ASAP. If Jones pulls it out, Baker will be able to say that he has, in fact, “put his money where his mouth is” and will continue to oppose unfit candidates regardless of their party label.
There are a lot more unknowns about the 2018 Massachusetts governor’s race today than there were a month ago. The pundits, pollsters, insiders, and blogging profs can be forgiven for attempting to apply conventional wisdom to this popular parlor game, but when it comes to the potential toxicity of Donald Trump in 2018, we may have to recognize a new species of unknowns that would probably even befuddle Donald Rumsfeld himself. In the Age of Trump we may have to get used to grappling with “virtually certain unknown unknowns.”
Yesterday morning I assumed that Charlie Baker would earn re-election the old fashion way. Today, I have my doubts. The situation is so potentially unstable, in fact, that I wouldn’t be shocked if Charlie Baker ends up running for re-election as an independent.
Disapproval of the NFL players’ form of political protest is the result of ignorance, misinformation and disinformation nurtured by understandable (but not justified) emotional reactions. The idea that such protests were disrespectful to military members and veterans is illogical and wrong. Of course, one can “feel” that anything is anything, but since words and ideas actually have meaning, we can and should dismiss as demonstrably false the truth claim that Colin Kaepernick’s protest was disrespectful (intentionally or otherwise) to the military.
Trump is a failed human being in almost every respect. Pretending that he might “grow” into the toughest job on earth is moronic. Pretending that the signs of engagement that signaled confidence and competence in past presidencies can be interpreted similarly during the Trump presidency is not useful and may even be dangerous.
Tomorrow I will meet my fall 2017 semester students for the first time. Though I am teaching three different courses, all three of my opening day lectures will focus on the same point. All of my students will read a concise description of the dangers of political amateurism written last month by political science professor and blogger Julia Azari.
Azari’s thesis is simple and her perspective widely shared by political scientists. Democracy is not easy and widespread public political ignorance and apathy has long created fertile ground for populist calls for the elevation of political outsiders to power. The problem is that political outsiders inevitably promote what Azari calls “the pernicious myth of populism that beneath elite squabbles there exists widespread unity of principles” among average Americans. Of course, there is no such consensus. Americans are committed to broadly defined ideals, like freedom, equality, and individual rights, but not agreed on precise definitions of these ideas or on how to realize them. For that, they need professional help.
Early voting puts the emphasis where I think it should be…on the voter’s preferences. Increasing the flexibility of voters increases the chances of and opportunities for voters to focus on THEIR interests and principles and what they want the government to do, not on the reality TV style competition being choreographed by the campaigns. Over time, voters will adjust to the reality of early voting and those not captive to media framing and candidate-centric propagandizing will find in early voting an opportunity to engage in this most crucial duty of citizenship on their own terms and on their own time.