Who benefits by serial allegations of corruption? The US Attorney’s Office

If federal prosecutors hoped the trial of John O’Brien might have focused our collective attention on the sins of political patronage, they seem to have failed.  It’s the power of the US Attorney’s office that increasingly draws scrutiny.  And not for the first time. Continue reading

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Our Immigrant Future

Recently I’ve been working on an article on political cultures in Massachusetts and returned to the Yeomen, a group I’ve discussed here before. The small town Yeomen of years past are gone but the Tea Party carries on. I’ve compared the Tea Party to the Know-Nothings but that was very unfair to the Nineteenth Century Americanists. The Know-Nothings were actually forward looking on many policies in Massachusetts, including economic, women’s rights, and school integration.

In their Nativist dislike of immigrants however, the Know-Nothings and Tea Party are similar. And listen, who could have guessed that the Irish would turn out alright? But we had better keep the welcome mat out for Latino and Asian immigrants in Massachusetts; they are our future. Continue reading

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“New Cape, Olde Cape”: Barnstable 1’s State Representative Race

This time last year, we were knee deep in the first open-seat Boston mayoral race in some twenty years. One of the common themes of the race was differentiating the relative influence of “New Boston” and “Old Boston.” As WGBH’s Callie Crossley and others describe the dichotomy, New Boston is more racially diverse and younger while old Boston conjures forth the machine style politics of older, predominantly white male ethnics. Given the racial and age diversity in the 2013 mayoral race (but not so much gender …an Old Boston theme sadly transcendent), some key questions became: Would “New Boston” turnout? Who would they turnout for? Was “Old Boston” willing to vote for younger and more diverse candidates? Continue reading

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Mass Politics: Ambition Welcome

An appreciation of political culture is very important to effective campaign strategy at any level. The way in which candidates deal with the question of political ambition (theirs and/or their opponents) reveals a lot about how well a campaign understands the cultural assumptions of voters. Continue reading

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Who Were Those Delegates Anyway?

During the recent debate over the utility of the party conventions some critics like the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh criticized the conventions for excluding decent candidates like Juliette Kayyem, while Professor Ubertaccio and I defended the right of political parties to make their own nominating decisions. One columnist’s back-room insider is another professor’s dedicated party activist perhaps.

A more important issue though might be, who are those delegates anyway? And what do they represent? Continue reading

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Residency rules, democratic life, rule of law

The debate over residency requirements for municipal employees in Boston has heated up in response to Mayor Marty Walsh’s suggestion to relax the rule and a Boston Globe report showing how often the rule is flouted. The deeper debate is an old one, raising issues of both democratic society and the rule of law. Continue reading

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Republican Revolution? Not This Way

Before and even after the recent state party nominating conventions my colleague Professor Ubertaccio and I engaged the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh in a friendly and spirited debate over the fifteen percent rule. Underlying the points we were making is a healthy respect for the role that political parties play in our democracy. Political parties are not popular with the public and some columnists but as Professor Duquette explained recently, they have many essential functions.

So I read with interest Jim Sullivan’s piece in Capital on June 27, The Republican Revolution Is Underway. Maybe.

Four million dollars in five years to help Republican state legislative candidates sounds pretty good. But the money isn’t going to the Republican State Committee, it’s going to a SuperPAC and affiliated non-profit that will operate outside of the state party framework. Is this any way to build a party? Continue reading

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Jacoby is shaming the wrong partisans

In this morning’s Boston Globe Jeff Jacoby uses the unanimous Supreme Court decision in the buffer zone case to shame liberal politicians in Massachusetts. I wonder if it occurred to the hyper-partisan Jacoby that the same decision may well reflect an important difference between the High Court’s liberal and conservative justices. Continue reading

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Our Ancient Faith

Last year for America’s birthday I compiled some of my favorite quotations from Abraham Lincoln about the Declaration of Independence. They appear below. Lincoln revered the Declaration and proclaimed it “my ancient faith.” The scholar Garry Wills in his book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America argued that Lincoln placed equality in a central place in our national discourse where it had not been before. This has been exposed in a sense by some conservative scholars but, too late; Will says we understand the Declaration the way Lincoln taught it.

The Declaration is still revealing itself to us and perhaps always will. It is adapted in calls for equality from oppressed groups, as in the Seneca Falls Resolution calling for women’s rights: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” At his “I Have a Dream” speech Dr. Martin Luther King opened with language recalling the Gettysburg Address and stated that “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

That was Lincoln’s creed, and his ancient faith. Continue reading

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Another Jacoby Unforced Error

Sometimes, as when Jeff Jacoby recently equated anti-gay marriage advocates with Black civil rights champions, his columns are so odd as to be dismissed as not serious. Sunday’s column was one of those. Jacoby argued that the victory of Thad Cochran over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in the Republican Mississippi Senate primary was proof positive that Cochran’s appeal to African American voters showed Black voting access is a “right that is no longer endangered anywhere in America, not even in Mississippi.”

You pretty much have to ignore the concepts of reference point and context to make Jacoby’s argument. Continue reading

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