^ Governor Baker : no vote for Donald Trump, no vote for Hillary Clinton

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Three days ago, Governor Baker made his election 2016 decision : he will not vote for Donald Trump nor for Hillary Clinton. We think this the right decision for him to make.

Baker was elected to set Massachusetts state administration right and to chart a new course, of fiscal discipline and effective service. At least 78 percent of his winning 48.5 came fro m voters who are not Republican. These voters did not elect Baker to be a Republican ideologue. They elected him to do the job he is now doing, a job that serves everybody. Injecting himself into a contentious national election can serve no good purpose for him or for us.

Trump partisans don’t like it at all. The comments on facebook run from angry to downright nasty. But a new WBUR/WNEU poll makes clear that Trump partisans are few in Massachusetts. Trump’s favorable-unfavorable numbers stand at 18 / 75 — the exact opposite of Baker’s — and are, says the pollsters, the worst they have ever polled for anyone. Trump rates unfavorable even to Massachusetts Republicans : 51 percent don’t like him. Why should the hugely popular Baker step into this disaster ?

As for Hillary Clinton, what has a Baker vote to offer her ? She will carry Massachusetts by 30 to 38 points, according to recent polls. Baker’s not voting for Clinton costs her nothing, but it does carry out the old political saying, “if you can’t be with me, be neutral.”

Along with his decision to stay neutral in the presidential race, Baker is being critiqued, a bit, because so few GOP candidates are seeking legislative seats this time. Of course Republican activists want to see legislative races contested; but if Trump does in fact lose Massachusetts by 30 points or more, the party will have its hands full trying to avoid losing many of the 34 House and five Senate seats it now holds. Better by far to “hold fire” and go all in next time, when the popular Baker will be up for re-election.

That said, the GOP in Massachusetts simply is not attuned to winning legislative elections except in very Republican-voting areas, which in our state are few. For at least 26 years the Massachusetts GOP has been a “Governor GOP,” great at electing Governors only. The structural and political reasons why this exists are many, and i have written about them at length in these pages. Suffice this time to remind readers that ( 1 ) a Governor has to work with our powerful, overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. He can’t very well work with them while at the same time working to defeat them and ( 2 ) the voters of Massachusetts — 53 percent belong to NO party — don’t care much whether their legislature is Democratic or Republican; they care that it get good things done.

These are the facts. Our state has a politics very different from the politics of every other state. The federal structure of our nation gives Massachusetts full power to go our own way thus. Let us be glad of it. Partisanship has damaged the civic life of many states; partisan agendas have injured many of their citizens. Be glad that our Massachusetts steers very clear of that tempest.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere




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