Mo Cowan “For a Vast Future Also”

Frank Phillips has a very good story in the Boston Globe today on the Mo Cowan pick, made all the more excellent by quoting my favorite political scientist: me. I was responding to criticisms from founder David Kravitz and other progressives that Barney Frank would have been a better pick: “The impact that someone could have for just five months in the Senate is not great, and the argument overstates the ­importance of having a Frank, Meehan, or a Kennedy.”

Let me expand on my thought.

Cowan will do fine. I don’t know him at all (surprisingly, there is no social register for people nicknamed “Mo”) but plenty of people who do know him praise his ability. He has an inspiring back story and has been a mentor to young lawyers of color. The issue of race motivating the appointment has been raised but that wasn’t the driver.

But it was and should have been some factor. The governor has always kept in mind advancing the careers of talented people who don’t come from the usual political precincts, as it were. Good. We need them, and all the talent that might otherwise sit on the sidelines. Nothing against those candidates who have considered a run for the remainder of Secretary John Kerry’s term, but when the Globe ran a story on potential aspirants a few weeks ago and put their pictures up above the headline, it had all the diversity of a 1950s smoker.

Cowan says he hasn’t plans to run for any office in the future but maybe he will change his mind. Or maybe some of these young folks he mentors and inspires from communities of color will use his example and that of the governor and run themselves. We need all the talent in the process we can get.

So Governor Patrick did not make this pick for a five month interim term, but “for a vast future also” (to quote Lincoln).

About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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