There aren’t many people who think the current state of the Kavanagh nomination is any kind of model for future nominations. So the question arises, what will future nominations be like ? I’m not bullish on the prospect.

First : we have allowed the Supreme Court to become almost entirely a political body in which nine justices render political decisions that the Congress s unable or unwilling to arrive at. The Court was not frame to do this, and, correctly, the voters will not accept the Court doing it.

Second : being now a political body, elected by no one, decided by a majority of the one hundred Senators, the Court finds itself chivvied by nominees who, if confirmed, arrive with their integrity and/or legitimacy severely wounded. Thus both the Court AND its membership attract scant respect and scarcely merit it.

Third : being entirely political, nominations become occasions for partisan campaigns. As Congress campaigns have become battles between this one’s misleading ads and that one’s false statements, so will Supreme Court nominations become an arena for lying and deception, ambush and smears, gaslighting and grandstanding. Hardly a recipe for amassing any public respect.

Can this prospect be reversed ? Not very likely. To use the current argot, you can’t unsee what you’ve seen or unlearn what you have learned. Devices used will be used again. If a nominee can’t be slandered, or belittled, or made to look shady, he or she won’t be granted a hearing at all (Merrick Garland). Nor is the Constitution any help. In requiring that the Senate advise and consent, without more, it opens the door to whatever interpretation suits the political interests of a majority.

For the past fifty years or so, Courts have ruled that where a contract requires the consent of one party to the proposal of the other party, it is necessarily implied that such consent ‘shall not be unreasonably withheld.” Today, contracts include that express language. Why should the “consent” requirement in Article II of the Constitution not include the same implication ? Contracts are not contracts at all if they are negotiated in bad faith; and to withhold consent unreasonably, as Mitch McConnell’s Senate did to the Merrick garland nomination in 2017, is an act of bad faith that, in my opinion, per se violates the Constitution. If those who the Constitution directs do not act in good faith, its precepts don’t mean much.

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 sets forth the directive :

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

In English law, the advise and consent power rests entirely with Parliament :

This enacting formula emphasizes that, although legally the bill is being enacted by the Queen of the United Kingdom (specifically, by the Queen-in-Parliament), it is not through her initiative but through that of Parliament that legislation is created.

Here, however, the framers thought differently. Their view was that President and Senate share equally the power to appoint and nominate. If that be the case, then the implied “shall not be unreasonably withheld” precept is included in the grant of power. Which, to my mind, means that President and Senate must confer upon nominations, meaning, perforce, that the President and Senate be in the same room, at one of those big conference tables we’ve seen President Trump sitting at with Senators gathered around. This is a recipe for teamwork, President and Senate conferring together, equally, to elevate or decline to raise a nominee — nomination being the exclusive province of the President — to the office nominated.

Yet American nominations have come to be anything but collegial. Political division, Republican versus Democrat, has rendered Article II nominations adversarial. The Senate, or half of it, greets the nomination with suspicion, with skepticism at best, and treats it as a detriment to their political prospects.

Perhaps the English advise and consent view is more realistic. Parliament is divided into two sides that face each other across a big room, and as such, its advise and consent function naturally takes the shape of party versus “the party opposite.” the party in power carries the day, and that’s that.

We, however, have been wedded to the more idealistic view, that Article II expects collegiality. Nor are we wrong to cling to this view, because a nomination of course carries greater authority if an overwhelming majority — both sides — buy into it. Consensus, at least in our system, is always stronger than rule by one side of the room only.

I don’t think we are head in the direction of collegiality. The Parliamentary method seems much more the case. As our politics have become ever more rigidly divided into Republican and Democrat, nominations will succeed, or fail, by the vote of mere majorities cohesive by party; and the other party will never consent, but will enforce its majority order when it attain Congressional power. This is becoming ever more the rule in all matters before Congress, no matter who is President, and I see no reason why it won’t become the norm for Court nominations. that such nominations leave even the successful nominee (to ay nothing of those rejected) cut in half, politically, and the institution nominated to damaged as well, is something we’ll just have to get used to.

If that is even possible.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere





Many Massachusetts voters find themselves stumped by what Question One on the November ballot is asking them to decide. I;m one of the stumped. We’re asked to weigh in on a question few of us have any expertise to opine upon : should nurses be limited, by law, in the number of patients assigned to them ?

Before I discuss what I’ve concluded, I link you to Ballotpedia’s survey of what Question’s proponents are trying to do, as well as the full text of the question and details of both the Yes and No campaigns :,_Nurse-Patient_Assignment_Limits_Initiative_(2018)

Once you read the full text of the measure, you see clearly that it calls for very detailed hosp[ital management expertise that I sure don’t have and neither, most likely, do you. Yet there is one point that you and I can figure : why should a state law govern such a quintessentially management decision ? A few hospitals are under State management. and for them, management by state statute might work. For the vast majority of hospitals, which are run by hospital corporations (profit or non-profit), management decisions are made by the management, not by the state. Why should corporate management not have discretion to decide its staff to patient numbers on the basis of its own, corporation, real time experience ?

As you read the text of what Question One seeks to do, it immediately strikes you, that the details asked come directly from “the shop floor,” where very few of us work. Nurses and other hospital employees have that knowledge (and from my encounters, they re almost evenly divided on which way to vote), but you and I don’t. Perhaps this is one reason why the legislature has declined to enact the law Question One’s proponents seek to win. Perhaps the legislature views this matter outside its jurisdiction.

One wants also to ask why collective bargaining by the Massachusetts Nurses Association has failed to win these rules in its contract negotiations.

Those opposing the Question often cite its financial cost to small businesses and small hospitals. Their argument has a place, but to me it’s not the decider. The deciding factor, as I see it, is managerial discretion. As long the vast majority of our hospitals — or any hospitals at all — are run not by the State, those hospitals must be accorded the liberty to make their own managerial decisions.

On that basis, I think the No side has the netter argument.

This may not be the final word. I remain open to persuasion opposite. It will not be an easy task, but I am willing to listen. Voting day is still 45 days away.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere





^ Congressman Joseph Kennedy III speaking at a large “Yes On 3” rally in Copley Square yesterday

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This November, when those of you who vote in Massachusetts cast your ballots, you will find three Referenda to be voted on. One of those three seeks to repeal the transgender civil rights bill that our legislature enacted overwhelmingly two years ago and was signed into law by Governor Baker.

This repeal is opposed by Governor Baker ; opposed by the legislators who voted for the hill; oppoded by Attorney General Maura Healey; opposed by the entire business and law enforcement communities; by labor; by every sort of civil rights activist; and opposed by us at Here and Sphere.

The so-called “TransBillMA” accords transgender persons full civil rights access to all public accommodations, including restaurants, store front businesses, and — yes, bathrooms, which are the focus of the repealers. They claim that it is unsafe for women if transgender women use a women’s bathroom.

Please note that no objection is made to transgender men using a men’s bathroom.

Why are the civil rights of transgender men any more guaranteed than the civil rights of transgender women ? The repealers have no good answer for this question except to posit a rather comic hypothetical : men pretending to be transgender women.

Really ? How does one pretend to be a transgender woman ? It is difficult to be transgender. I cannot imagine how anyone who is not transgender gets even a small grip on what being transgender is like.

Frankly, I find the entire repeal argument to say, in essence, that transgender people do not exist, that being transgender is a myth or a mental disorder.

By what right does anyone get to decide who someone else is ? If there is any basic human right, it’s the right to be who you are.

And what’s the big deal about bathrooms ? Many establishments have unisex bathrooms, one at a time. Where multiple bathrooms present, in stalls, each person still goes into one stall and can lock the door. People use a publicly available bathroom because they simply want to take a piss, period. A piss and move on. And anyone who wants criminally to predate people in bathrooms can already break the law.

The repealers’ motive is deny that transgender people exist. Or, that if transgender people do exist, they can’t be allowed to participate fully in the community and society. This is segregation, pure and simple. Second class citizenship.

It cannot be allowed to happen.

Please vote “yes” on Question 3, to preserve the protect the full civil rights of our state’s thousands upon thousands of transgender people.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ The mayor and Jeffrey Sanchez : what happened here ?

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The big media have remarked that Tuesday’s primary election was a bad day for Mayor Walsh’s political standing. Whether that continues true for ominously long, we’ll see. What I can say, however, is that he seriously mishandled his options.

From what I have been told, or could see with my own eyes, Walsh sent his impressive political army to assist five — yes, five — candidates, in this order of priority so far as I can tell : ( 1 ) Mike Capuano ( 2 ) Dan Koh ( 3 ) Dan Cullinane ( 4 ) Jeffrey Sanchez ( 5 ) Greg Henning.

If your mouth has gone agape at seeing Dan Koh number two on the list, you’re with me. I was stunned to see it and even more stunned to discover that, with four Boston-based candidates in some electoral trouble, he chose to prioritize a person running for an office 30 to 70 miles from Boston. Dan Koh seems to have lost the primary for the office he sought : Congress from District 3. Yet even had he won, what good could that have done Walsh  The 3rd District contains none of Boston nor even any of Boston’s suburbs. Politically, from a Boston standpoint, it might as well be in Wyoming.

Dan Koh was Walsh’s first chief of staff, starting in 2014 soon after Walsh took office. Walsh favored Koh immensely, siding with him in territorial disputes with persons who had worked day and night for Walsh’s election. I am not privy to most of the relationship, yet it was clear, when Koh left to run for Congress, and Walsh helped him raise much of his $ 3,000,000, that Walsh has hitched his political standing to a young man whom he hired from outside his own substantial ranks of solid loyalists.

I do not ask why. That’s not the point of this article. What I want to focus on is why, for goodness sake, wasn’t Jeffrey Sanchez a top priority for the Mayor ? Sanchez lost his difficult re-election fight by about 300 votes. Could not a couple of dozen Walsh operatives have found those 300 votes and delivered them to the polls ? Yet it appears that Walsh operatives based in Sanchez’s district were sent to help Dan Koh on the vital weekend just prior to the primary.

Why ?

Would it not have been mightily to Walsh’s benefit to have the Chairman of House Ways and Means owing re-election to him ? The most powerful Latino elected politician in the entire state ? Walsh now faces a major challenge in 2021 from communities of color enormously empowered and aroused by Tuesday’s wins. Would it not have helped him to have the House Chairman of ways and Means solidly his ally ?

Maybe there is a different answer. I’ll come back to it.

Meanwhile, by what standard was it wise for Walsh to divide his political army into five pieces ? Mike Capuano, I can see helping. He had endorsed Walsh in 2013, and his endorsement mattered. A Mayor needs a close friend in Congress. His help for Capuano made sense. But why Greg Henning ? I like Henning. I supported him. But why did he need any help from Walsh other than a nod ? As for Dan Cullinane, as a former Walsh aide he surely merited some assistance from the Mayor. He actually needed all the help he could get, winning by about 180 votes. But would not Sanchez victory have mattered so much more to Walsh’s future than a win by Cullinane, whom Walsh can always bring back into his administration ?

Even a political army as large as Walsh’s — and his is most impressively large — can’;t fight five battles at the same time. You want to concentrate your forces.l In my opinion, Sanchez and Capuano should have been Walsh’s ONLY election priorities, for his political sake and his agenda’s. As it turned out, four of the five who he assisted lost. Which brings me to wrap up my thinking about Walsh and Sanchez, to whose campaign he gave little more than token assistance :

Can it be that Walsh saw Sanchez more as rival than ally ? Might he have seen Sanchez, as House ways and Means chairman, as a serious challenger — maybe his MOST serious — in 2021 ? For it is a fact, now, that Sanchez is no longer any rival at all, and that those who are possible rivals have nothing like the clout that Sanchez had. Linda Forry is an ally, not a rival. Ayanna has now left the scene to go to Congress. Who of the remaining players can assemble the money, and the community power that Jeffrey Sanchez had ?

Here is yet another way in which Speaker DeLeo’s naming Sanchez House ways and Means chairman put a target on his back.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Kava nagh

We at Here and Sphere cannot support the nomination of Brett Kavanagh to be a Supreme Court justice.

I’ve written about the nomination in a column posted about two months ago. There I wrote that I had read all eight of Judge Kavanagh’s significant Appeals Court opinions and dissents. I showed how his arguments evidenced an agenda political, not jurisprudential; that his findings mirrored specific policies advanced by this or that “conservative” think tank, as if he were a Senator, not a Judge. Brilliantly worded his opinions are, but themes are always those of a paper written for a think tank by a researcher working there.

That is not what the nation expects of its High Court. Justices are not to be Senators or Congress-people. they must not be voices for this or that lobbying interest or policy research team.

Once you read the Appeals cases that include a Kavanagh opinion, you do find that the majority opinion, or the dissent, written by other members of the Court,. with one exception, those of Judge Millett — including those by Merrick Garland — read no better than Kavanagh’s. They too deliver many, many words — many more than in a Kavanagh essay — in favor of a law they clearly want to support, in the manner of a legislative majority. Never does one read a jurisprudential rationale in those findings, only a bureaucratic one : this is the way the regulations tell us to rule. Not very edifying. But the other Appeals Court judges are not before us with a Supreme Court nomination. Kavanagh is.

The Court must be peopled by Judges who think for themselves; who do not have an agenda that knows in advance how to decide each case that comes to the bar. Some of the most famous, and controversial Justices, such as Brandeis, Holmes, and Marshall, had a recognizable agenda that they applied when judging, but these agendas were legal, and procedural, evidentiary and grounded in how the law should judge. I do not find that sort of priority in Kavanagh’s rulings.

Presidents have often nominated men and women whose legal theories they liked. Not often have nominees been selected for their political views.

We supported the nomination of Justice Gorsuch because it was clear, from reading 30 of his available opinions, that his findings derived from legal theory; that it was rare to know in advance, on the facts, how he would decide. Indeed, as Al Franken demonstrated in the case that involved the now famous frozen trucker, that Gorsuch insisted on a strict view of the law whatever the facts might be. That was perhaps a shock to some, who believe that justice comes before strict law, but his was a legal rationale, not a political one. His finding was, if anything, quite impolitic.

No such rigor does one find in Judge Kavanagh’s opinions. He says that he supports precedent, but his opinions are quite ready to discard it, or to wish to discard when he cannot, whenever he feels the need; and he grounds his preferences not in legal theory but in debate school dialogue.

I do not for a minute believe that Kavanagh perjured himself on the matters involving his work in the Bush ’43 White House, nor did I find his careful answering of Senator Harris’s deposition-like, gotcha questions disqualifying. Nor was I much moved by Cory Booker’s grandstand play against clear Senate committee rules on document disclosure. There was no need for any of this preening for the television cameras. I’m also not persuaded by those who argue that a President under investigation should not be allowed to nominate Justices. As long as Mr. Trump occupies the office of President, he occupies all of it. He either is President, or he isn’t. There’s no such Constitutional thing as half-President.

All the evidence for assessing Judge Kavanagh’s nomination is right there in his opinions plus the think tank and lobbying group back stories. On the basis of these, I cannot support his nomination. It should not be agreed to.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ collapse of a portion of the Alewife T stop parking garage highlighted additional problems inherent in our 50 year old MBTA system

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Recent news has clarified that the MBTA’s repair situation remains in flux. First came collapse in the Alewife T station garage; today the Boston Globe reports that more of the T’s stations than not are in serious disrepair. Add that during the past month, track and signalling repairs have shut down the Orange Line, on weekends, between Ruggles Station and Forest Hills. Nor can we forget the power outage that put the Maverick Station to Government Center section of the Blue Line out of commission for two hours on the night that Harbor Fireworks caused a ridership surge during that very time frame.

What does all of this mean ? I think most of us felt that when Governor Baker took office in 2015 and immediately made full-scale MBTA reform a top priority, that somehow the entire T would be humming sweetly by now, three years later. I also think that most of us had expectations out of sync with the MBTA’s facts. Let’s look at these :

( 1 ) early on, Baker’s MBTA team determined that at least $ 8 billion would b e needed to bring the system’s tracks, signalling, power , and cars up to a “state of good repair. This level of money was not going to be available all at once, the legislature and baker having decided that no new taxes could be asked until the MBTA out its existing financial house in order.

( 2 ) The T has done that part. New contracts with the Carmen, a Fiscal Oversight Board to see that spending is efficient, and new management of the T workers’ pension funds have entirely re-written how the MBTA deploys its finances.

( 3 ) Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollock, a commuter advocate prior to joining the Baker administration, determined that the first repair priority would be tracks, signalling, and cars. Every rider understands, or should, that actual transportation must come first, before station and garage upgrades.

( 4 ) Meanwhile, Pollock ordered a comprehensive assessment of the T’s stations and garages. The report has come back : more than half rate below average or worse for state of repair.

( 5 ) Actual transportation has not gone unfixed. Tracks, switches, signals, and power boxes have been upgraded, repaired, replaced. New Orange Line cars are here; new Red Line cars are coming soon,. Electric buses are o n order, as well as minibuses for less traveled routes. Late night service has begun. Heavy travel bus routes are getting additional buses.

( 6 ) The Green Line extension is under way, all the way to West Medford, including a brand new Lechmere Station to replace the present one more than 50 years old. The Silver Line has added a bus route from Chelsea through East Boston direct to South Station and the Red Line.

( 7 ) the Fairmount commuter rail line has added several new stations, serving chiefly Boston’s communities of color, from Newmarket and Upham’s Corner to Four Corners and Blue Hill Avenue.

( 8 ) We now have non-stop commuter rail service from Boston to Worcester

( 9 ) the entire system has been digitalized. Every bus has a GPS location that tells a rider when it will arrive at her stop; every T station has arrival information on a digital board.

Garages and stations will now see repair and modernization. I would also like to see major stations become weather-proof, as none are right now. The money has been allocated, and a Transportation Bond b ill,. passed by the legislature in this session, should fund much of heavy lifting for what remains to be done with tracks, power, signalling, and cars.

That said, it’s not going to be a brand  new, state of the art Transit system any time soon. Governor Baker has a target year if 2023. It might take more years than that, even. Yet when complete, the present objective of restructuring every aspect of the T seems well worth the public’s patience.

I almost forgot to talk about traffic : auto and truck traffic. What are we going to do about that ? The business boom and population increase within downtown Boston has made traffic almost self-defeating. Gridlock affects everyone who uses a car, Uber or one’s own. Can we assemble a regional master plan ? I hope we can.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



The Empress Theodora.

^ the role model for a politics of “queens” : Theodora, resplendent co-ruler of Constantinople in the 6th century, a politics now coming to you because it’s what you want

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The lede for Boston Herald editorial of Ayanna Pressley’s winning Congressional District 7’s nomination read thus :

This was not about Michael Capuano.

Well ? If it wasn’t about Capuano, why was his name on the ballot ? Boston Herald, you know better than this.

The nomination contest was absolutely about Mike Capuano. Whenever an office holder is challenged by a ballot opponent, the contest is always about him or her — and his or her record. The voters, more than 100,000 of them, decided by a 59 to 41 percent margin that they did not like Capuano’s record.

So what is Mike Capuano’s record, that 59 percent of his District’s voters did not like ? I think it’s fair to say that they did not like how he presented himself: his style, his presence. Capuano is the quintessential workman-like, nuts and bolts legislator working on what legislators are supposed, Constitutionally, to do : hold hearings of bills, amend them, enact them if possible. And to tend to needs of the District, the individual situations that seek the intervention of an ombudsman who can remedy the difficulties. In Capuano’s District, these  situations include immigration prominently among other, more topical concerns; and Capuano’s office worked wonders to address these matters, rapidly and effectively. A Congressman’s job also involves advocacy for the reforms his or her voters care about, and Capuano did that, too, unfailingly. By every standard, Capuano epitomized what the Framers surely envisioned Congress people being : tribunes of the people, as were the tribunes of republican Rome.

Yet for 59 percent of the District’s voters, Capuano’s exemplary record had no juice. They voted for something else : a fresh voice, as their candidate said; for “change” because “change can’t wait.” I have already written about this change that “can’t wait” : what I said then was, “why is change even needed ? If change isn’t need, the question of waiting does not even arise.” I say this again now. Why was change needed at all ?

The answer is easy ; change wasn’t needed, indeed was a mistake. But the 59 percent of voters who voted for “can’t wait” had, I assert, something else in mind that could not wait : they did not want a workman-like doer and legislator. They wanted a star a radiant, photograph-able, elegant and elegantly dressed STAR. They wanted a QUEEN.

THAT — having a queen — was what could not wait.

Some also wanted “Black girl magic.” During a week when Aretha Franklin, the ‘queen of soul,” was laid to rest with adulation well deserved, especially by people of color, for many of whom Franklin the singer was a role model, here was a chance to vote for a new, rising Queen demanding “R. E. S. P. E. C. T.” and wearing the clothes and bearing of an entertainer, an Aretha reborn.

Meanwhile, many voters who are conscious of enjoying “white privilege,” as the saying goes, spurned Capuano because, in their view, it is more just to have a representative of color than an “old white guy,” as one friend of mine called Capuano and ( 2 ) more effective to have a star power voice, a beautiful woman (and that Ayanna most definitely is), a national media attention-getter, representing them than a mere doer, an uncharismatic, paunchy, greying guy who looks like your electrician or grocery store manager.

And this is the convergence I am writing about : a coalition of two interests, the social justice world with the politics as entertainment interest. I find this convergence not all that different from Mr. Trump’s coalition of social reaction with politics as entertainment. The issues oppose, but the addiction to entertainment is the same.

In my opinion, the Constitution can only work when those who claim to live by it work at it. It is a Constitution for electricians ad grocery store managers, for artisans and entrepreneurs, for police officers and lawmakers, for policy advisors and debate and compromise. But it is NOT a Constitution for kings and queens.

Politicians like Mike Capuano, as with the majority of is colleagues and of those who preceded them, embraced that participatory model, the ideal of “doing the people’s business,” as did their voters. Unhappily,. this ideal, this classical republican idea, is losing its hold on our nation.

I sincerely hope that Ayanna Pressley gets down to business, sheds the queen pose and puts on her political electrician’s habit. Yet the opposite is more likely. If ” voice” is your tool of choice, attention is what you seek. Our politics has devolved to an anarchy of attention-seekers, each outdoing the other in outrageousness, in clickbait and battle cry in a sandbox peopled by enemies wrestling like WWE actors. And why not ? The WWE makes millions of dollars from suckers for vicarious fakery, and “E” television draws many times more viewers than does C -Span covering Congressional debates. Roman republican government, which demanded citizen participation, gave way to an Imperium and arena entertainments; to spangles and ceremony on the one hand and ugly death sport on the other. It was not pretty, and neither will our nation be cute when entertainment and queens become the epitome.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Image: Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Ayanna Pressley takes the stage after winning the Democratic primary in Boston

Turnout. Ayanna Pressley sure did turn it out.

Turnout elected our new Congressperson. Major congratulations are in order — so, from all of our elections panel at Here and Sphere, congratulations, Ayanna !!!

The ultras — purists, if you will — turned out. The rest of us, not so much.

Guys & gals, you gotta VOTE — yes, in primaries — or the purists will make the decisions we will probably not be very comfortable with.

Ayanna’s big win, does not shock me. Having seen the turnout. 2362 voters cast a ballot in C Town ? 2833 in Eastie ? Heck, I’ve seen C Town cast 5550 votes and Eastie 6500. Clearly most voters here didn’t care. That’s a failure with very deep roots that goes way beyond Mike’s immediate Campaign, which was a dynamic one — except that 75% of the people in it were Mayor’s people and unions. How does a Congressman who was going to be a Committee chairman not have a large organization of his own ?

Three weeks before Primary, Mike had not one thing happening in Eastie. Nada. And then he met with — 5 of our 6 electeds and recent electeds !! Look —I love them all, these guys. But WE elected THEM, not the other way around. You want Adrian’s support, and Carlo’s and John Nucci’s, and Sal’s, and Joe Boncore’s ? Go to their voters directly !

And do it all the time.

This wasn’t about gender or color of skin. Mike had a pretty good team in Black communities. Bigger than in Eastie.

This was not about Ayanna’s skin color. In Readville, for example, an overwhelmingly Caucasian precinct, with few ideologues if any, Capuano won by only 50 votes out of 550 cast. Mike had the support of the local City Councillor, who lives in and was born in Readville. He had Rob Consalvo, who was the District’s City Councillor before and remains enormously popular in the neighborhood. But you can’t win your own election by depending on your colleagues. You win it by depending on the voters, especially on ordinary voters; and that reliance must be worked for, again and again.

I will say it again : you have to stay in touch with the voters — all the voters — constantly. You have to have outreach people to do it — thoroughly — and you have to do it yourself. Hold a Summer picnic, every year; have a Christmas or St Pat’s Party, as Sal DiDomenico does.

Somerville : how did Mike win it by only 0.8 percent ? How does an incumbent, powerful Congressman, former Mayor, not win his own city at least 2 to 1 ? We’re told the city has changed, but when you’re a Congressman — or an elected — you stay in touch with the newcomers, you know they’re there, you make sure they know and trust you. Basic stuff.

Turnout again : you can’t get ordinary, non ideological voters to vote unless they have a personal connection to you, one that’s forged at precinct level, block level, even one family at a time level. Basic stuff.

A friend from the Bayswater section of East Boston posted on his facebook page : “Well, Mr. Congressman, you can’t just show up at election time.” Nope, you can’t just.

Meanwhile, Ayanna, as underdog, has been planning her run for years. This was not a surprise. I’ve been hearing about it since the 2013 Mayor race. Ayanna is a radiant, confident, knowledgeable politician and good company as a person. She has worked very hard to get to this point, and has finished number one in Council races four (4) Times. There is no way that Mike could have not known long ago what was coming and planned for it. But what I saw just in Eastie makes me conclude that make a plan, he did not.

This is not to say that Mike isn’t a great Congressman. To me he is the model of what a Congressman shoujd be. I think his District will realize soon enough what they have lost. A fighter and a doer. And an ordinary guy, just like your neighbor and mine.

Mike is a great, great man.

Ayanna will be a very well attended voice. That’s what she campaigned as : a voice, a new voice. Personally, I could use less political voice and more political nuts and bolts. Rhetoric is all too ephemeral; nuts and bolt accomplishments last long. But those who cared to vote decided to replace workman-like accomplishment with a beautiful new voice. I hope her voice succeeds.

—– Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere