^ Joe Kennedy III at Tino Capobianco’s big meet & greet, last November 2nd
Here and Sphere has yet to endorse a candidate in the contest to elect our State’s Federal Senator whose seat is on the ballot this year. That does not mean that I, personally, do not have an opinion. I do have one. I’m voting for Joe Kennedy. In the Democratic primary on September 1st.
Why am I voting for him ? I don’t usually vote a Democratic primary ballot, but this time I am doing so. That was the first step I took : to pass by the two men seeking the Republican nomination for this office. Until the Republican party extricates itself from the ugliness of Mr. Trump, and from the nihilistic, bathroom-graffiti level of gripes that he has imposed on the party as substitute for an actual agenda — until, as I say, the party asserts an actual agenda that I can support, I won’t be voting in its primary, no matter who may step into that mud.
A Democratic ballot, i will take.
On the ballot on September 1st I will find two names : Ed Markey, the current US Senator, a man I have known since he first sought public office — in 1972 — and Joe Kennedy, presently a multi-term Congressman from our 4th District (centered in Brookline and Newton).
Markey was a long-time Congressman from the Middlesex County District before deciding, in 2013, to make a late-career move to the Senate (the seat was open because John Kerry had been appointed Secretary of state.) In that contest, I consulted to a Republican candidate, Dan Winslow. When Gabriel Gomez won the GOP nomination, I voted for him. I did not see then why Markey — an eloquent voice to be sure, on rare occasions when he spoke up — was surrendering his seniority in the House to become a back bencher in the Senate. He has since become as rigid a “no” vote as the current Senate has. I am not a fan of “the universal No.” it gets us nowhere.
I met Kennedy for the first time last November at a big house party in Winthrop, home of my friend, Tino Capobianco. At least 100 people attended — some of them political, most not. No woke activists were there, only Kennedy followers. I was very impressed to see so many moderately ordinary voters there — the sort who get involved in politics for somebody they like but who don’t mainline political opium. Activists are few, and have a tendency to rigid mind. They want this, this, and this done, period — no matter by whom. (The current crop also voices a tendency to racial
thinking, a sad detour which I want no part of.) Ordinary voters — a personal candidate following — have only modest goals : they want somebody they can look up to, who will do a good job and who will remember their names and be seen out and around from time to time.
That’s the politics of neighborhood, what the late Tip O’Neill had in mind when he famously said “all politics is local.”
Kennedy has built a solid reputation as a civil rights advocate. He has also partnered with Governor Baker on Federal funds requests. I like that.
During this campaign, however, he has, unhappily, attempted to match Senator Markey’s very progressive agenda : medicare for all, green new deal, abolish the electoral college, you name it. I have watched him say that, again and again, and I have winced. I wondered if I could vote for him after all or whether I should maybe just take a pass on the entire contest: for I am very opposed to all three of those positions.
It turned out that I had missed the real event : Kennedy was very solidly becoming the candidate of labor and of those personal-following voters I mentioned above — the State’s Joe Biden voters, the Pete Buttigieg voters, and the Amy Klobuchar voters. Meanwhile Ed Markey became the candidate of our “progressives,” those who actually want the agenda he talks of.
Our state has pretty much divided, politically, into three camps : Trump Republicans, with their 25 percent; the pragmatic Democrats, who may well number 45 percent; and progressive Democrats, who seem to number about 35 percent. I am committed to the pragmatic Democrats. Anybody who thinks that that commitment isn’t crucial should take a look at the police reform bill presently being conferenced. If we are to deflect its hurry and its recklessness, it will be the pragmatic Democrats who will do it. The same split looms large in Boston. Next year’s Mayor contest, like last year’s City Council, Congress, and District Attorney contests, will be a battle between the progressives and the pragmatics.
It is vital, therefore, that Joe Kennedy win his race. I am under no illusions that he will espouse any sort of conservative, or even moderate, positions; but I am fairly convinced that he will hurry nothing, will listen to all, will embrace ordinary voters first, and will work across the political aisle to get good stuff done. it was, after all, his late uncle, Ted Kennedy, who made Voltaire’s quip his motto : “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”
Joe Kennedy will, thank god, NOT be perfect. He will, however, be good. That’s my political comfort zone.