TO SAVE A NATION IN TURMOIL, LOOK TO THE MAYORS

1 Baker and Walsh

^ Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker : Massachusetts is lucky to have two leaders both boldly reformist and respectful of each other. Usually the mayor goes it alone.

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It’s no surprise that Hillary Clinton delivered her masterfulo speech on the Charleston shooting and the entire wave of gun violence to an audiece of America’s Mayors. Addressing the Mayors — of both political parties and some of no party — Clinton could be blunt and candid and pull no punches, and know that her hearers would applaud every sentence.

To watch and listen to her speech in full, go here —>  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5Xv80YydnI

America’s Mayors work the front lines o our national battles. they can’t deny, or hide, or belittle, or condescend, or demonize the vast diversity of people who live in cities. They can’t embrace perverse politics, such as the gun-rights’ distortions of what the Second Amendment meant and means. Mayors cannot shut out the many, many undiocumented immigrants who loive in their city. They can’t stand by while police forces, or jail guards, assault, torture, kill unarmed citizens or jail inmates. Mayors can;’t cavalierly blame poor people for needing public assistane, because a great many city residents need these. Mayors can’t look upon residents of color as suspects first, becaue in many citi9es residens of color form a majority. Nor can Mayors do the bidding of gun manufacturers, because it is in cities that gunsmost find their way into the hands of shooters.

Mayors have to be realistic about policty. Unlike the Federal governmenthey can’t mint money. Unlike Senators, they can’t just talk a good game. Unlike Congress members, they can’t marry a lobbyist or two and ride the connection to a permanent career of loud bstruction. Mayors, like Governors, ponly more intensely, must answer to crioses every day, often many crises at once. Mayors must be responsive to neighborhoods, institutions, businessses, everybody — because even the big cities are small enough that everyone can know the mayor personally, some even more closely; the personal connection raises everybody’s expectations.

Fortunately, most Mayors are willing and ready to rise to these occasions. In Boston, we have a Mayor, Marty Walsh, who actively seeks challenge, aman who instead of deciding major matters in private conference brings his presence direcgtly onto the battllefield, like a King in the Middle Ages, personally leading and building a persional loyalty that becomes his chiefest weapon in fighting the many, many battles or issues passions that he faces : school reform, public safety, unruly demonstrators, wage-action rallies, loud opposition to this or that, and hundreds if not thousands of land use flare-ups big and small.

The Mayors of other cities do the same. it was Indianapolis’s Mayor, Greg Ballard, a Republiocan, who forced a resolution of the Indiana “religious freedom” discrimantion law flap by instituting a city ordinance garnting full civil rights protections to LGBT people. In New York, mayor Bill deBlasio, recovering from a very bad beginning, who is implementing a Federal consent decree reforming the outrage that is Riker’s island jail. Many Mayors are enacting a $ 15.00 min imum wage for their city. The Maor of Philadelphia, Mike Nutter, had to confront the tragic train derailment that killed six people in the North Phiuladelphia neighborhood,. Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, has had to deal with a teachers’ union strike, horrific gun gang violence, and a budget deficit. Then there’s M ike Duggan, mayor of Detroit…

We in Massachusetts are so very liucky. Mayor walsh finds an ally in Governor Baker, a reformer no less bold than Walsh, albeit cool where walsh runs hot. Other Mayors haven’t such an ally. Imagine the plight of Mayors in “red” states governed by punitive legislatures, spiteful governor, or both. I think of Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans, or the Mayors of Milwaukee, Birmingham, Atlanta. Or Joe Riley in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the Middle Ages, Kings often allied themselves with the merchant rulers of cities — the original “bourgeois,” the French word meaning “city resident” — to defeat the revgressive power of landed nobles. They were wise to do so, but fior many there was no other choice. Barons of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries just as often despoiled the kingdom as protected it. 13th century cities could not prosper if the trade routes to them were so unsafe that traders could not, or would not, travel them. And if there was no commerce, the king could raise no revenue for his government.

As early as the 1070s, kings and city leaders were agreeing to peace, protection, and trade pacts, keeping the castle barons at bay. By the mid 1150s, it was almost a universal feature of European politics. “The King in Parliament, with his knights and burgesses” ruled England, against the Lords, from the 1350s pretty much till the 19th Century.

It’s kind of the same in today’s America. The President and the Mayors make sense of,a nd keep order and trade prospering in, the nation’s cities, where most of our people — of our innovative, optimistic, productive people — live, work, and become a community going forward.

DISCLOSURE : In my daily political life, I strongly support both Mayor Walsh and Governor baker..

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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