As we get down to the final weeks of the election, many national commentators wonder how big the so-called “Blue Wave” will be, with newly energized Democrats taking back offices up and down the ballot across the country.
The big question here is whether that wave will include Massachusetts.
Massachusetts voters disapprove of Trump more than do those of any other state. But then many of these same voters give their stamp of approval to our Republican governor, Charlie Baker.
If one only skims the news, one could be forgiven for thinking that Baker is a “nice guy.” Conflict is how we learn that there is a problem, and our very risk-averse Legislature likes avoiding conflict with Baker (With Deval Patrick, it was another story).
But, when you dig deeper, Baker, rather than being some moderate maverick, is just like any other Republican—and thus a governor out of step with Massachusetts.
Massachusetts residents are proud of our state’s role in advancing universal health care. Baker, by contrast, has tried not once—but twice—to give Massachusetts the dishonor of being the first state to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, taking away health care from 140,000 low-income residents.
Massachusetts residents understand the gravity of climate change (we live in a coastal state after all) and the importance of transitioning to clean, renewable energy. Baker, by contrast, approved first-in-the-nation fees on homeowners who install solar panels, advocates for building new dirty pipelines, and has filled his administration with fossil fuel lobbyists.
Massachusetts residents are appalled by Donald Trump’s xenophobic mass deportation agenda that is ripping families apart. Baker, by contrast, wants our state and local law enforcement to be the foot soldiers of the agenda.
Massachusetts residents understand the importance of investing in our public transit systems, the bedrock of our economy. When faced by an underfunded system, Baker’s response, by contrast, has been regressive fare increases, privatization, and shrugging.
Massachusetts residents reject the death penalty as a barbaric, ineffective, and racially discriminatory practice. Baker, by contrast, wants to bring it back.
And with his appointment of unqualified rich friends to top positions and brazen exploitation of loopholes in campaign finance law, it’s no shock that he still feels at home in today’s Republican Party.
Even where Baker sings a moderate tune, like on reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights, he shows his true colors by backing his most reactionary colleagues like Rep. Jim Lyons or Rep. (and now Senate candidate) Geoff Diehl. He also raises money for the Republican Governors Association to help elect governors that will roll back civil rights, as well as environmental and labor protections, in other states.
Over the next two years of Trump’s presidency (which I, and most Massachusetts residents, hope will be his last), Massachusetts residents will have to continue organizing against the toxic agenda of Donald Trump and the Republicans in Washington. We should be electing a governor – Jay Gonzalez – who will fight for policies that put Massachusetts on the forefront of progressive change where it belongs.
Jonathan Cohn is the chair of the Ward 4 Democratic Committee.