“we can do better. We MUST do better” : Charlie Baker accepting the GOP convention’s nomination
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Today at Agganis Arena Charlie Baker accepted nomination by the Massachusetts Governor GOP. Indeed, he won 85.25 % of the delegates’ votes and thus avoids a primary.
I say “Massachusetts Governor GOP” because our state actually has two, completely separate Republican parties. The Governor GOP is attuned to winning elections for Governor and usually does win them. The Governor GOP appeals to most MA voters. It supports marriage equality, women’s right to choose, a rise in the minimum wage, environmental justice, and state action on transportation, public education, safety net, health care, and homelessness issue.
The other Massachusetts GOP, what I shall call the “party platform GOP,” accepts none of these agendas. The Party Platform GOP does not care about winning elections. Its concern is for what it calls “core values” and what most of the rest of us would call bigotry, selfishness, and accusation.
The Party Platform GOP had a candidate for Governor — a classy guy in person, let me make clear, but a man who called himself Tea Party — and who made no bones at all, in his nomination speech, about supporting every paragraph of the odious Party Platform. He said so.
He got 14.75 % of the delegate vote.
By falling short of even getting onto the ballot, the Party Platform candidate demonstrated to every voter in Massachusetts that the Tea Party’s views have no place in Massachusetts’s Governor GOP politics.
That was an important thing for the Governor GOP to make clear to Massachusetts voters. But this was, for Charlie Baker, only a prerequisite. Baker’s acceptance speech had also to advocate reforms that a majority of our State’s voters might want to sign onto.
He did this.
He spoke of disfunctional government ; and indeed the Patrick administration has mishandled the administration of much, from DCF to the Department of welfare to the utter failure of the State’s Obamacare online connector, not to overlook scandal in the State’s Crime Lab, the Probation Department, and patronage hires. Baker promised to do better — “do better” was his theme, really — and he took time to show that, as an administrator for Governors Weld and Cellucci, he had already done so.
Bill Weld joined Baker on the stage and anointed him. It mattered.
Baker spoke to many issues that the five Democrats have basically had to themselves recently : closing the schools achievement gap; a better plan for the homeless than putting them in hotel and motels; and educating a workforce able to fill the jobs that already exist but go unfilled for lack of applicants who can meet the requirements.
He grabbed hold of the reform of government mission — big time. Reform of government has always been first-call for the Massachusetts Governor GOP. Baker raised these stakes as high as possible, saying that the entire State administration needs “to be brought into the 21st Century. We must change the way the state does its business now ! This isn’t 1960 !”
His point has legs. It mirrors what John Connolly said, time and again, in last year’s Boston Mayor race : that it;s not enough to make incremental change; we must transform government, because the world we live in is transforming. Either we do it or it will be done TO us. Like Connolly in that mayor campaign, Baker specifically referenced the Patrick administration’s many failures of technology. “We can do better,” said Baker, time and time again.
He is right. we not only can do better, we must do better.
The convention loved it.
under a confetti sky : Karyn Polito (L) and Charlie Baker (R) rejoicing
Baker said that Massachusetts doesn’t necessarily need new revenue; that the state can slim down and become smarter in how it administers and thus cost less, without having to skinflint key initiatives. This wasn’t the usual GOP no-taxes-ever point, not at all.
He laid down the gauntlet to his Democratic rivals, none of whom has come to grips with the details of state administration — partly because criticizing the Patrick administration is a bridge too far for candidates of Patrick’s political party.
Granted, that on a couple of matters — the huge cuts we’ve made to the DCF budget, and local aid cuts — Steve Grossman has in fact criticized Governor Patrick. I give him full credit for that. Don Berwick, too, has criticized the state’s ACA health connector as aggressively as Baker could ever do. I give Berwick full credit for THAT. (as both Baker and Berwick have made bones as health care administrators, a debate between them on this issue would be immense.) Yet these are details. On the issue of who can best administer the Governor’s future, Baker holds the prize
But being the best administrator is only half the battle. Just as important is which policies and legislative initiatives is the Governor to administer ? Of this, Baker said almost nothing.
His five Democratic rivals all adduce worthy policies, and large empathy for constituencies who need empathy and then action; and their suggestions have wide support, even majority support. Baker will have to stake out ground in these policy fields and do so boldly.
Nonetheless, Baker, by today’s speech has assured that his Democratic rivals will have to address stuff they don’t want to address or look like part of the problem, not of a solution.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere
below : the convention arena was full for the proceedings