Inside the Massachusetts governor#039;s race

by Beacon Staff • October 25, 2006

While their Republican counterparts are passing legislation and getting things done, the minority party can't do much but sit back and complain.,In Washington, the Democratic Party all too often seems more concerned with lambasting the Bush administration than working to create actual results.

While their Republican counterparts are passing legislation and getting things done, the minority party can't do much but sit back and complain.

Watching Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick speak at a rally for his supporters in Boston Common on Oct. 15, one gets the sense that he is a different kind of Democrat.

Patrick has actual concrete plans for the future of the state. Investing state pension funds into small businesses, putting 1,000 more cops on the street and creating universal early education for preschoolers are hardly the vague platitudes voters are used to.

Rather than engaging in dirty politics as his opponent has done, Patrick strongly but respectfully criticizes the leadership of Governor Mitt Romney and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.

In his refreshingly bipartisan way, Patrick also called upon voters in both parties to demand the unity this state needs to mend its many issues.

"Nobody's ideas are going anywhere unless we reinvent our politics and restore our sense of community," he said in the Boston Common speech.

This sense of refinement cannot be seen in Healey.

Her attacks against Patrick for his work as a defense attorney are pathetic, desperate and, unfortunately all too common in politics.

One ad released by Healey on Oct. 4 asked, "While lawyers have a right to defend admitted cop killers, do we really want one as our governor?"

However deplorable the actions of rapists and cop killers, it was Patrick's job as a defense attorney to demand fair trials.

Healey isn't only attacking her opponent, but the very foundation of our criminal justice system.

The people of Massachusetts should see past these cruel attacks and remember that without people of character like Patrick defending criminals, our society would be much worse off.

As Patrick noted in his speech, he has worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney and knows the law from both sides of the courtroom.

Healey, who has no experience as an attorney, has yet to explain why a defense lawyer can't make a good governor.

Patrick's ability to maintain a message of hope and claim the high ground despite the negativity of his opponent is reminiscent of former President Bill Clinton's attitude in his 1992 campaign.

The comparison ought to be embraced.

Clinton had the positive energy that Democrats are currently lacking.

Over the past six years, cynicism has infected the party like an unshakable cold, and Republicans have capitilized on this weakness to maintain power.

If Democrats such as Patrick can infuse the party with newfound hope, they can sweep state and federal positions out from under the GOP, which is struggling to overcome a slew of scandals involving prominent Republican leaders.

Democrats across the country would be wise to adopt Patrick's attitude, particularly in these precious few weeks before the election.

The current administration has saddled the country with an expensive, stagnant war and an economy with little or no job growth.

They have a lot to answer for.

Democrats would be wise to stop complaining and instead look to make real change in the future. In other words, to follow the lead of Deval Patrick.