The name of Curt Schilling is upon us in a context it shouldn’t land. The man who 12 years ago won the hearts of all Red Sox fans as he pitched through terrible pain to take our team to the World Series pennant now wants to be our United States Senator. Laudable ? Not so much.. He has spoken in the vein of Trump, angry and bigoted, defending Trump’s worst misogyny, ignorant of social norms, dismissive of everyone who doesn’t taste his gripes.
This is not new to Schilling. In past elections he has mouthed his gripes in terms offensively devoid of remedy. True, a citizen has every right to speak like an asshole. A candidate for our state’s highest national office ought to rise higher; to take his or her mission seriously; to elevate all the people. Schilling may not in fact run against Elizabeth Warren; but if he does so in the Trumpian vein that we have heard so far — he can never have this paper’s support; and I can assure our readers that we will oppose him at every opportunity, if he runs and does not elevate his discourse.
The possible candidacy of an angry Schilling demonstrates the bearish Republican future that we have discussed at Here and Sphere many times. It has been obvious for some time now that even in Massachusetts, where comity and consensus have ruled since at least 1990, the coming of Trump assures that Massachusetts’s Republican activists henceforth feature radical rejectionists — people who eschew winning elections because all they seek is revenge for being shown up by the majority of us. The virulence of these rejectionists — a difficulty since 2004 at least — has increased manifold this year, with two consequences : the reasonable activists are giving up, or even leaving the party altogether, whereas the rejectionists, emboldened by Trump becoming the GOP nominee, are moving aggressively; in response to which the common sense faction of our GOP is exiting in larger and larger numbers.
Granted, that all is not lost. The youngest of our state’s GOp activists — under 30 — have a very different mkindew5r from Trumpian. They’re optimistic, they embrace our common political norms, they do not see enemies everywhere, they aren’t addicts of talk show hosts — because few, if any, listen to radio or watch TV — and they live with lifestyle diversity and multi=-culture. Many of the most eloquent are non-white, or LGBT, or both.
But their day is maybe a decade or more in the future. Meanwhile, we face a Schilling moment and probably others like it.
That this development gives rise to a Curt Schilling candidacy is, yes, deplorable. But its most serious effect is that it endangers the agenda and re-election of Governor Baker. In a poll taken many months ago,m baker’s favorable-unfavorable standing was worse among members of his own party than with any other Massachusetts voting group. Today, Baker is openly reviled by a faction still fringe, but likely to grow. His politics is the opposite of Trumpian. He seeks consensus, he campaigns to and respects everybody, he supports inclusion. He is always a gentleman, never gross, never sounds like gutter. Just on style alone, Baker is a living, governing rebuke to the Trumpian way.
Baker’s rescue, and his re-election, will likely arise from our state not being Trumpian at all. The last poll I saw had Trump getting 26 percent of the vote. Baker is our state’s most popular politician, and though he has likely lost many union votes with his privatization moves at the MBTA, and opposes even the minimum agenda of immigrant activists, on almost all other issues he speaks for a sizeable majority. The difficulty is the Republican party, which he leads. It’s only 11 percent of our vote, but a vital eleven. Baker cannot afford to win only half of that vote (51 percent did not vote for Trump in the March 2nd primary, 49 percent did.)
Worse for Baker still is that the media will report any loss of GOP dominance baker experiences, and we won;t be wrong to report it. Control of our GOP is Baker’s hole card in dealing with the legislature. If he doesn’t bring the entire GOP deck to the bargaining table, he looks weak, and a Governor cannot negotiate with a legislature three-quarters Democratic if he looks weak.
Baker will also be put on the spot if a Schilling candidacy does occur. He will be asked over and over again if he supports his “ticket mate.” With Trump, Baker made it crystal clear very early that he will not vote for Trump : and he told us exactly why. If a Schilling candidacy does occur, will Baker be as clear ? CAN he be ? Whichever course he takes, he risks his standing.
But perhaps I over-react here. The smallness of our state GOP allows Baker to reject a Schilling candidacy. Maybe he loses 4 of the 11 percent of voters who are Republican; but by dong so, he solidifies, for the vast majority of our voters, his reputation for principled moderation, inclusion, and reform and his rejection of rejectionism.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere