Thinking Citizen Blog — Charlie Baker’s Decision Not to Run: Right for Him, Wrong for Country?

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Charlie Baker’s Decision Not to Run: Right for Him, Wrong for Country?

Is the Yankee Republican on the verge of extinction? Is it time to say good riddance? Is it time for lamentation? Will he run for President? He says absolutely not. Should he? And why has Democratic Massachusetts elected so many Republican governors? Is the future a Trumpian Republican candidate and Progressive dominance as far as the eye can see? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

A CASUALTY OF COVID STRESS? THE WAR ANALOGY

1. Did he decide he just could not take the stress much longer?

2. Is governing under Covid just too hard?

3. Is the right analogy that being a Governor in times of Covid is like being the ruler of a country in time of war?

NB: Another analogy: I think of Baker as eerily like Colin Powell, another voice of reason and public servant, who put personal peace of mind and family ahead of civic duty in the country’s hour of direst need with disastrous long term consequences. On the other hand, seriously, what rational human being would want to bear that burden? And who is to judge another?

WHAT IS IT WITH BLUE MASSACHUSETTS ELECTING RED GOVERNORS?

1. Since 1900, Massachusetts has elected 2X as many Republicans as Democrats.

2. Since 1964, six of the last nine, “even as the Democratic stranglehold on seats on Beacon Hill and in Washington solidified” (Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe columnist and member of the Adams House Senior Common Room, see first link below).

3. “Baker, like Bill Weld, his predecessor and former boss, embodied the classic Yankee Republican: Ivy League, patrician, pragmatic, not especially partisan, moderate to liberal on social poicy, more conservative on spending, and a bulwark against one party rule.”

NB: “Massachusetts voters like a Republican in the corner office at the State House if only to serve as a check on the unbridled power of Democrats who overwhelmingly control the legislative branch of state government.”

THE BROADER NEW ENGLAND CONTEXT: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine

1. In Maine, in 2019, Paul LePage, who boasted of being “Trump before there was Trump,” was, after two terms, succeeded by moderate Democrat Janet Mills, the first female Governor in the state’s history and the first Governor elected with more than 50% of the vote since 1998. (see photo above)

2. In Vermont, the Governor is Phil Scott, a moderate Republican who is not only more popular than the far more famous Bernie Sanders, but the most popular Governor in the nation (with Baker ranked #2). He is the only Republican currently to hold state-wide office in Vermont.

3. In New Hampshire, the Governor is another moderate Republican Chris Sununu, the nation’s 4th most popular Governor!!! He received 65% of the vote in the November 2020 election. An MIT-trained engineer, he is the son of former Governor John Sununu (1983–1989) who later served as White House Chief of Staff under President George HW Bush from 1989 to 1991.

FOOTNOTE: O tempora, or mores! (from Cicero to Jonathan Edwards to 2021)

1. O tempora o mores! is a Latin phrase from Cicero, short hand for a lament at the decline of values in our time. Literally, oh time! oh customs!

2. This is a secular version of the religious “jeremiad” — or sermon lamenting the decline of values. This used to be the first theme of Harvard’s introductory course in American literature when I entered graduate school in 1975. The most famous jeremiad was that of Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741)

3. Well, almost fifty years ago I studied jeremiads. Now I’m feeling it. Well, sort of. Excuse me, while I go take a happy pill.

NB: Kevin Cullen concludes his article with: “The Yankee Republican is not dead yet, but his prognosis is not exactly promising.”

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