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The way we do politics has to change too. But in
Right now all ten Massachusetts congressional seats and both U.S. Senate seats are held by Democrats, and Democrats occupy all six of the statewide constitutional offices and control 90% of the State Legislature. Of the handful of Republicans in the Legislature many owe their presence to the Democrats refraining from running candidates against them. A tame, token opposition, dependent on Democratic goodwill and forbearance, is no opposition at all.
The numbers are shocking. When it comes to contested state legislative elections,
Even dedicated Democrats should recognize the need for another party to start nipping at its heels from the left. The platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is an admirable document, but there is a large gap between the platform’s promises and what the Democrat-controlled Legislature actually does. Healthcare, taxation, and sustainability are three areas, in particular, where the party’s deeds in office diverge from its platform commitments.
While the party is committed to the principle of single-payer healthcare – according to the platform – the Democrat-authored and Democrat-enacted Chapter 58 takes the commonwealth away from, rather than toward, a healthcare system that is both universal and sustainable in the long term. It is good news that so many more people have healthcare coverage than they did before Chapter 58 became law, but it is the health insurance companies that have reaped the biggest rewards. In contrast to single-payer, Chapter 58 involves massive transfers of wealth from the public to the private sector. I believe that this is wrong, and that the Democratic Party should not be forcing the people of
Taxes tell a similar tale of timidity. The voters’ unequivocal rejection of the November 2008 ballot question seeking the abolition of the income tax presented the Democrats with an unprecedented opportunity. Clearly there has been a sea change since the electorate’s 2000 vote to reduce the income tax to 5%, and Deval Patrick’s 2004 campaign can legitimately take some credit for helping produce that change. Given the clear shift in public mood, the responsible course of action would have been to restore the income tax to a realistic level. The refusal to do so is leading, predictably, to cuts in local aid, rather than the “increased local aid to cities and towns” that the Democratic party platform promises.
Instead of restoring the income tax, Democratic leaders are once again proffering casinos or even slot parlors in the knowledge that casinos have yet to solve any state’s fiscal woes and that the overwhelming majority of casino users are people with low incomes. This is simply unjust, and completely at odds with the Democratic platform commitment to “tax equity and responsible budgeting.”
Nobody should deny the Democratic Party’s real achievements. I am proud to have held office as a progressive Democrat. I respect much of what the party has won for ordinary working families over the years, and I applaud the many grassroots activists and office-holders who work hard on the inside to make the party truer to its ideals.
And, to be fair, Governor Patrick has made a couple of sensible proposals recently, namely pushing for an increase in the gas tax and instituting a carbon fee for parking at
It is time for