At what point do politicians realize they have political capital they can spend?

Contrast the public pronouncements of  Senator Elizabeth Warren, which  many times pit her against Wall St and the network which caters to Wall St – cnbc, as well as oftentimes the President of her own Party, Barack Obama, as the recent details regarding the rates of student loans demonstrate,contrast all of that, with certain local politicians in Massachusetts, who, while winning local races with nearly 70% of the vote  worry about  about their ‘re-election’,or their status ‘in the leadership’, if they vote for, or are seen as supporting Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to invest in our infrastructure/transportation bill or for frankly ANY progressive measure.

After the contrasting and comparison is completed one cannot help but be left with the impression that Senator Warren is a politician who subscribes to the notion that political capital or influence is not something to be hoarded, or accumulated to just watch grow and to sit there and stagnate to achieve ‘seniority’,  but that it is to be used, to shape events and public opinion; to highlight issues that otherwise would have little attention paid to them.

She has the confidence of her own convictions and it shows.

She appears fearless.

She has earned the accolades which have been coming her way because of her political courage and respectful outspokenness.

How hard is it to speak up for the vast majority of Americans, the vast majority of ALL politicians’ constituents?

How hard is it to speak for those that have no voice?

How hard is it to question and master a subject and reject a meme developed by FAUXNEWS or it’s subsidiary around here : the Boston Herald or Sports Radio?

Senator Warren makes it appear easy – and in making it appear easy she is showing how, I can’t seem to find another word for it: cowardly ~ too many local politicians are in a crucial aspect of their job: the ability to persuade, to push forward with the necessary legislation to move Massachusetts in the direction we know we should be heading.

There are myriad issues that fall under the liberal/progressive umbrella that will be part of the conversation that this blog will highlight in the coming months and I am looking forward to writing about them, as well as reporting upon the reaction that some politicians will no doubt have, to the issues being raised.



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5 Responses to At what point do politicians realize they have political capital they can spend?

  1. RyansTake says:

    When you see a vote so uniformly in one direction on something as big as a veto override, you know it’s not that legislators are worried about their jobs, they’re worried about their position.

    You’re right — the vast majority of them have no reason to be worried about getting reelected and most of those know that. But what about their offices or their committee assignments? What about that vice chairmanship they’ve been trying to get? That matters to them, a lot.

    I posted a tweet last night: Is the reason why the leg doesn’t want to give a Dem Gov a victory because they don’t need a Dem Gov’s coattails to get elected? #mapoli

    If no one needs a Democratic Governor’s good will in this state, and if leadership itself doesn’t need a popular governor to maintain its power, and this goes on for decades, suddenly an empowered Democratic Governor can be seen as ‘the enemy,’ particularly one who’s an outsider. What possible incentive does leadership have to allow a Democratic Governor, not of their cloth, to be empowered within their caucus?

    At this point, I think that’s what everything is all about — and it’s steered the legislature in a direction where it only looks inwardly, at parochial interests dominated by a few conservadems currently at the top, having a tunnel vision that stops them from seeing the kind of ‘light’ that an outsider Democratic Governor, elected to serve over 6 million people, may be able to see.

    These kinds of personality games and squabbles have to stop — and it does, to a large extent, when a Republican is in the Corner Office. Then we get bipartisan health care and ed reform bills and all kinds of things that are more Republican than they are Democratic…. because they aren’t really in competition, since there is no real Republican party to threaten leadership. A popular Democratic Governor who controlled a lot of votes in the legislature could…

  2. Susan Haley says:

    But why does that vice-chairmanship, or leadership position matter to them if they don’t do anything with it except ‘get the title’?

    Maybe we should start asking – so what are you going to DO with that committee assignment, that leadership position?

    What’s the point of getting it?

    Is it all so ‘their district’ gets a pothole paved over – is that IT?

    It’s not good enough anymore – and maybe they need some important legislation/issues presented to them that plainly shows how timid they are if they don’t spend some of that capital they have been hoarding.

  3. Susan Haley says:

    IIRC, it seemed to me that within weeks of being sworn in, the Governor in ’07 was given a display of raw power by ‘the leadership’ on Beacon Hill – a game of: who is REALLY the boss around here?

    He took the tack of playing nice and with the economic calamity that hit the country, we never really got to see how things could have played out if the ‘crash’ hadn’t forced everyone to work together for the most part.

    Now, there seems to be an opportunity to pursue items and an agenda that can leave a lasting legacy – and the ‘leadership’ and their ‘lemmings’ are willfully walking away from the opportunity to do something tangible that people will actually see.

    Instead, we will hear that – our taxes got raised and ‘we have practically nothing to show for it’ and it will be their own fault.

    They either know this and don’t care, or they think THAT’s what they will ‘spend their political capital’ on – explaining on how settling upon the tiniest bandaid was the best they could do.

    It’s frustrating.

  4. RyansTake says:

    You’re right on the money — what we have going on in Beacon Hill is not doing anyone any good, but there’s an institutional problem at the source of what’s going on here and short of conservadems switching to Republicans so we can have a more honest caucus, I’m not sure how to change that. (That, btw, is never going to happen, especially since many of the conservadems are in leadership.)

    Really, I think the only thing a progressive Governor is to do is to run the Corner Office like they’re still in a campaign, only that the “republicans” are the entire legislature and the ‘campaign stops’ are districts across the state. Run big events and hold individual feet to the fire. Get hundreds of their constituents to send letters and make calls. Put the fear of god into them, so to speak. That’s really the only thing I think a progressive governor could do to get bills through that reflect in anyway their priorities and promises to the voters.

  5. Susan Haley says:

    I have suggested to some people that progressives start a ballot initiative that takes away the power of how the House Speaker gets elected( we could do the same for the Senate President) and conform it to terms associated with the Congressional districts.

    This will take a little more explaining: we, the people of the Commonwealth could take away the power of the Greater Boston legislators by the use of a ballot initiative saying in effect – ( I ‘ll use the Speaker’s office as an example) the Speaker of the House shall be elected from members of the legislature comprising the geographic area comprising the 1st Congressional District for a term lasting no more than 8 years and subsequent to that tenure the Speaker shall be elected from the members of the legislature comprising the geographic area comprising the 2nd Congressional District and so on, and so on, until we ‘make our way around our state in this fashion’……this would allow for ‘leadership’ to reflect the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rather than just ‘Greater Boston’ and it would give more politicians who would not normally ascend the Speaker’s Chair the opportunity to do so.

    There are regions of our state that are more progressive that we can see by just looking at election results, and by whom is already in the legislature sent from certain areas, and by instituting this procedural change we could see needed reform, and/or, we would most likely see attempts to stifle it as well; it would engage more citizens in democracy because, as you have noted, using the Democratic label in this state carries with it a lot of ‘shades’: some are a very pale, faint blue.

    I think the present leadership would fight it with everything they have – they’d go to the wall fighting the initiative. I would be willing to bet they would spend a great deal of the political capital they are ‘hoarding’ on defeating it. But I also think that once a certain ‘region’ has had ‘it’s turn’ and those legislators get pushed to the back bench, you’d see as well a number of them resigning or moving into other offices either at the federal or state level and it would ‘open up’ the opportunity for new legislators to take their place.

    Getting rid of the culture of Beacon Hill – because it IS primarily focused on the legislators from Greater Boston, would do much to improve the attitude people have about public service as well.

    There has to be a way to reform this system because what they have created is a very clubby atmosphere where very little gets accomplished unless it is in reaction to something the Herald screams about. I honestly think the only people that keep that paper in business IS the politicians and their staff from Beacon Hill.

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