Politics and more

October 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Posted in little bug, Massholes, politics | Leave a comment
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Ted Kennedy died, and Massachusetts needs a new senator. The special election takes place January 19, 2010. There are four candidates. In addition, the Boston mayoral election is on November 3.

I moved to Boston in June 2003, and this the longest I’ve stayed put since I went to college. I consider myself relatively well-informed, politically, but these races have hardly registered in my conscious. I don’t know whom I’m supporting, nor who stands for what. The current New Jersey gubernatorial and New York City mayoral races still seem more relevant, somehow. I care more that Christie might actually be the governor of New Jersey (a potential travesty) and find discussing the pros and cons of Bloomberg’s potential term-limit extension much more interesting than whether the Menino machine can be broken.

Maybe this is the problem: In Boston and Massachusetts, in adherence to all stereotypes, the “machine” still seems to means something. If you want to be a player, have a future, in Democratic politics, you support the incumbent mayor for a fifth term, even if you can understand one of every five words he mumbles.

Likewise, now that Martha Coakley seems to have been appointed “the” Democratic candidate, it is unlikely that her three challengers will have a chance. Which is too bad, despite the fact that I’m sure she’d be a good senator (and I’m always supportive of women who run for office). 

Case in point: Last night Tim and I attended a fund raiser for Alan Khazei, another senatorial candidate. Khazei founded the nonprofit City Year (a kind of Peace Corps for teenagers that focuses on inner cities in the U.S.). He’s running a decidedly grass-roots campaign and is embracing the “community organizer” label. (“We have a community organizer in the White House!” he exclaims during his speeches.) I attended not so much because I support Khazei (indeed, I didn’t know much about him before yesterday and even thought his name was spelled like it is pronounced – “Casey” – and he was yet another Irish guy running for office) but because I knew some of the people hosting the fundraiser and was curious about why they were supporting this relative underdog.  The crowd was decidedly young and idealistic, and I spied a few figures whom I knew coveted a future in politics publicly bucking the machine and throwing their support behind Khazei, not Coakley. That in itself was heartening. But I don’t think he has a chance – not because of his message or demeanor (he is a funny, likeable man), but because the fundraising momentum is already behind someone else.

Khazei didn’t necessarily win me over last night. But meeting an actual candidate kindled my overall interest in the race.  In fact, it was invigorating.  I have always thrived when feeling like I’m in the know and aware of the world (one of the reasons why I became a journalist). Though going to the fundraiser meant missing putting Little Bug to bed (and how I miss her when I don’t see her all day!), a night away from my child might be worth it to keep the currents of inspiration and commitment to and interest in the world around me buzzing. In other words, to keep me being me.

Duh, you say. Of course you have to have a life of your own, apart from your kids (isn’t this what all mommy-lit is about?)  In reality, though, we all know how strong the pull of home is after a long day, children or not.  After the event, Tim and I swung by Gaslight (our favorite go-to-French bistro, in large part because of the free parking and quick access to the Expressway) for a quick steak frite. An impromptu weeknight dinner with one’s husband in an actual restaurant – no TVs, no computers, no dirty dishes – discussing politics and our work days (I have a vague fantasy that people without kids or with grown kids do this regularly…) is indeed a rare treat. And further compounded the obvious:  it’s good – essential, important, necessary, fulfilling, sustaining… – to get out of the urban-suburban commuting bubble (home, work, home). There’s a senate race going on and it matters to my life. So do personal relationships. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have stoked both fires.

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