The latest edition of Commonwealth Magazine has an insightful article written by James Aloisi. He opines that this year’s state election might turn out to be a watershed moment if opportunities are seized to position Massachusetts at the forefront of economic development. However, the former Deval Patrick cabinet member issued this warning:
For the Democratic Party, this is a watershed moment not unlike what it faced in the early 1990s. In 1991 the party was reeling from the turbulence and unpredictability of the 1990 election, when John Silber effectively took control of the party for a brief, tumultuous two months, before losing to Bill Weld. It was the first time since the mid-1970s when the party was not dominated by Michael Dukakis and Frank Bellotti. January 1991 saw the inauguration of a new speaker (Charlie Flaherty), a new (Republican) treasurer (Joe Malone) and new secretary of state (Bill Galvin).
It took a long time for the Democratic Party to regain its footing. A short list of capable people – Mark Roosevelt, Scott Harshbarger, and Shannon O’Brien – tried to take on the mantle of gubernatorial leadership. All were destined to fail. Patrick’s imminent exit doesn’t quite resemble the vacuum that was caused with Dukakis’s exit in 1991, but it will likely leave state Democrats repeating the pattern of the 1990s. There will be decentralized nodes of power, centered most obviously in the House and Senate, but also thriving in the offices of the new Attorney General and Treasurer. (Stan) Rosenberg, who has waited for his moment of leadership for well over a decade, serving for a time as Senate Ways and Means Chair, comes better prepared to lead the Senate than any of his recent predecessors. Neither he nor the governor-elect will need a nano-second of on-the-job training.
Aloisi thinks Evan Falchuk & his United Independent Party might become a long-term threat to the political hegemony of the Democrats. Now that Falchuk has legitimized his party (the UIP secured more than 3% of the gubernatorial vote), he has an opportunity to attract disaffected Bay State voters who are turned off by the corrupt practices of one party & the serial incompetence of the other party. Such a development, however, wouldn’t bode well for the GOP either.
The Republican Party is basically ignored in Aloisi’s article. He mentions Charlie Baker within the context of what he would like to see the governor-elect do given the tectonic changes that are making themselves felt in politics, economics, & culture. If the GOP wants to avoid the ashcan of history, its going to have to get serious about re-imagining & re-tooling itself. Its gains this past election cycle are hopeful. Let’s hope they aren’t a transient aberration.