Questioning Faith and Politics

Recently Governor Deval Patrick stood with leaders of diverse faith communities and invoked his own religious faith as a rationale for accepting immigrant children into the commonwealth. I wrote admiringly of that decision and some among our commenters suggested that when religion calls to ideas that are not consistent with the prevailing liberal ideology around here, our Democratic politicians are more likely to spurn than to heed faith leaders. I think those critics are justified and they rightly point out the complicated nature of religion and politics in the land our forebears sought to establish as a Model of Christian Charity. Continue reading

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The view from Cape Cod

For those of us who live on the Cape, the summer brings the usual assortment of pleasures: sun, sandy beaches, chilled gin, clam shacks, and a competitive electoral climate so lacking elsewhere in the Commonwealth.  We’ve been here before.  It’s good to be a politically active Cape Codder.

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Prof O’Brien’s research featured in NYTimes

The New York Times Editorial Board featured Professor O’Brien’s co-authored research in their 8/11/14 editorial on voting access developments in the American States:

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Media Coverage of Women Candidates

Do the media treat women candidates for governor or senator differently, focusing more on personal traits than on substantive issues or on horse race? Is that sort of coverage helpful or harmful to women candidates? If there are such effects do they hold for primaries as well as general elections?

I can’t answer those questions in the context of a Democratic Party primary for governor featuring a woman candidate but an article in Political Research Quarterly has me thinking: Johanna Dunaway, Regina G. Lawrence, Melody Rose and Christopher R. Weber, “Traits versus Issues: How Female Candidates Shape coverage of Senate and Gubernatorial Elections.” (2013). Continue reading

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The renovated corner office

I suppose there is some charm in working in an old office that would have been good enough for John Hancock.

Perhaps the next time a major storm or security situation threatens the Commonwealth, the Governor can whip out a quill pen and dash off an urgent note on parchment via horseback.   Continue reading

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Lincoln and Douglas Debate Immigrant Children

Obviously Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas never debated immigrant children; they were one issue candidates in 1858 and the issue was slavery. Circumstances were quite different regarding immigration in the 1850s; no one could be “illegal” since the nation had done nothing to restrict immigration. Still, the different understandings Douglas and Lincoln had of the Declaration of Independence are instructive for our current heated debate over immigrant children.

The Declaration was all to Lincoln. In Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1861 he told a crowd: “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence….which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men.” Continue reading

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A juror’s take on the O’Brien trial

Last week,  an anonymous juror schooled a powerful Mayor while also raising concerns about due process for a powerful Speaker and federal prosecutorial power. Continue reading

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The Legislature and the Digital Divide Crisis

We are experiencing a digital divide crisis in the commonwealth of Massachusetts as it regards our legislature. We have been saluting them with only one digit when they deserve all ten digits thundering together in hearty applause. Continue reading

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PAC Sponsored “Mothers” Ad: What it Really Conveys

I’ve seen the television advertisement Mass Forward, a PAC supporting gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman, is running. It stops me in my tracks. And it does so for reasons that have nothing to do with Martha Coakley’s allegation of collusion between the PAC and Grossman campaign. The spot features African American mothers who have lost their young sons to gun violence (to view: It urges viewers to back Steve Grossman because he supports legislation that would limit Massachusetts residents to purchasing one gun a month – something the spot says Martha Coakley opposes. The mothers of slain boys hold pictures of their sons and the spot ad with the women sitting together outside. Continue reading

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Probation Mess: Go for the Jugular, Charlie

Yesterday my colleague Professor Duquette counseled Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker to forego attacks on the Democrats over corruption. Professor Duquette’s reasoning was that an attack on the leadership in the wake of the Probation Department verdict would incite legislative Democrats to deploy their mighty organizations against Baker; thus campaigning on Democratic corruption would backfire on Baker.

Professor Duquette is wrong. Here’s why. Continue reading

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