‘ello, Guvna!

July 22, 2009

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Deval Patrick is the current Governor of the C...
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This afternoon, I sat at a small table with five other people and chatted with Deval Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts.

The Governor was on his way to a town hall-style meeting in the next town over, so this was just a pop-in to meet with a few Joe Citizens. (My friend, Rebecca, has campaigned for the Governor and invited me to come say hello.)

There were no prepared remarks and, other than the security guys standing in the back of the room and the photographer from the local paper, there was not a lot of hoopla. I didn’t really say much, but mostly because the conversation was flowing and I wanted to hear what the Governor had to say.

The good news is that it was interesting. Gov. Patrick has an air of confidence, intelligence, and geniality. In response to comments about the endless push-and-pull in our town (and probably every town), the Governor talked about his last campaign, and the powerful grassroots feeling of that time. He said that one of his biggest lessons thus far has been that we must figure out a way to retain that feeling of “We’re all working together towards a common goal” AFTER the election is over. His words were, I believe, “We need not just grassroots campaigns, but grassroots government.”

And with that, I think the the Guvna hit the proverbial nail on the head. There is a total (cheesy word alert) disconnect between regular people and their lives and what is going on at the state and national level. I may even call the New York Times and let them know about it.

Let’s take me, for example. I consider myself a Good Citizen. I pay taxes (I=David in this scenario), I care about my neighborhood and town. Just this week I made a small donation and became a Friend of the Library (I know: Yay, me! My $25 will save everything!). I know the Mayor and, in fact, will host him at my house tomorrow evening for a “meet and greet” with some neighbors. I held signs on election day. I have a child who will, possibly, be in the public school system in town. On paper, I seem to be exactly the type of person who would get more involved and maybe volunteer for a committee, or something.

Which brings me to the bad news: I’m probably not going to.

Why? Well, for starters, because I look at Government, whether it be local or state or national, and what I see is a machine. I see decent people who want to make changes, and who think they will actually be able to make changes, and then they just get demolished by the machine. Even the Governor today said that the problem with getting things done in Massachusetts is not a Republican versus Democrat issue; he thinks it’s all about who you know or don’t know.

I read the local paper online and, when I am feeling particularly masochistic, I read the comments. Seriously, it’s enough to make me want to move to – where? I don’t know. Sweden? – immediately. And I am told I live in one of the most progressive states in the country! Under an editorial in today’s paper on the topic of our particularly contentious library issue here in town, some idiot has written “Kommie Kezer and his Klowncil cannot be trusted, period.” (Our Mayor’s name is Thatcher Kezer.) There are retorts and replies from all sorts of wackadoodles and, honestly, I can feel my blood pressure rise as I read it. Yeah, there is no way I could be in the thick of it on a daily basis.

Bleak stuff, eh, Guvna? Now I’m talking myself down from the edge. Trying, desperately to end on a high note…Oh, wait, I’ve got something.

I just remembered that I sat down with Deval Patrick today. And I’m hosting the Mayor tomorrow. (And then there’s that 25 clams I gave to the library!) Maybe I’m not as jaded or apathetic as I think? So I’m not going to run for school committee – but I did sign someone’s papers today so that she can run for school committee, and it was someone I actually know and could call up with an issue. It’s all feeling downright grassrootsy!

How we could ever replicate that feeling on a state or national level is beyond me (yes, I am aware I can email and fax my representatives)…(silence). But giving up is not the answer either. It is also very likely that I will end up on a Libertarian recruitment list soon, but I just took their online quiz and they are, ultimately, not going to want me.

In conclusion and for the record, I liked Deval Patrick. Sorry to bust out this harebrained word, but he had a good vibe. His obvious intelligence and personality remind me of another elected official, someone a little higher up the food chain, someone who may also need to start asking, “How do I get the groovy grassroots love back?”

  • bloggingbelmont

    hey lise. great post. i say “get involved!” i ran for school committee here in belmont and, while its a flog in many ways, its also exposed me to all the great people who are working in the classroom and behind the scenes in the PTAs, town government, etc. (i'm sure they're there where you are, too.) you absolutely have to ignore the wing nuts who spam the (unmoderated) comments sections in your town paper – we have them too. you know the [name of town] love it or leave it! Trust me: its a really small, small minority. technology just makes their voice seem louder. i sympathize with Deval Patrick. and I think he did well to force the legislature's hand with transportation and pension reform, etc. those are things that have been sitting out there, undone, for decades. he should feel proud. that said, he's also balancing the state's budget on the backs of school kids, the poor and infirm and i just find that morally unconsionable. politically popular or not, he should have gotten out front and argued for a tax increase on the wealthy and a change to the state's income tax to make it more progressive. as for the “escape to europe” thing — you'll get over there and say “gee, Paris (or whereever) is gorgeous,” and then you'll realize how rigid and xenophobic/antisemitic/racist and class bound everybody is and want to come home.

  • Andrea

    Dude those comments about the “Kommies” would make me lose my mind, too. ugh. As someone on a local committee, I will say it's kind of a drag sometimes. It takes forever to get ANYTHING done and everyone has their “fiefdom” and all that. And this is a committee of volunteers who are just trying to create a small simple web site for our town/village. Nothing inflammatory at all. So I hear you on the trepidation about joining one. It's awesome that you're hosting an event for your Mayor, btw. And that you met the Gov. He sounds smart and interesting.

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