Skidmore College

A New Face in Massachusetts Will Cure a Newly Polarized Community by Jake Hempel @ Skidmore College

Today’s political spectrum is riddled with divisive issues, ignorance, inaction, and polarization. A diminishing face in government, even in the most popular states, opens doors for challengers to rise up and make changes for the people that desperately need them. On a national level, congressional gridlock and an always controversial presidency keep the nation at odds with itself, heightening the cruciality of winning elections for political parties and keeping majorities in the legislative branches. These national level politics are all just games; campaigns will appeal to some and be appalling to others, with a sway-able middle up for grabs. State level politics is where the real dirty-work is done, and where the most specific of policies that can make massive differences for people when the national government is compromised. In the state of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker is a republican governor who is running for reelection in 2018. He is the most popular government based on state-by-state approval ratings. He has acquired this popularity through the lowering of state income taxes while preserving wealth for the upper echelon of citizens. His focus on energy policy that is more environmentally conscious, such as solar panels, and his support of the Trump Administration withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement has stirred up considerable discussion on his bipartisanship, or lack thereof. Being a state that has voted democratic in the presidential election since Ronald Reagan, let alone produced two presidential candidates in the last 30 years, the election of Governor Baker speaks to the idea that polarization is quickly permeating the state. It is a given that challenging for a seat in any election comes with many financial and recognition disadvantages, but to challenge for the most popular governor’s seat seems like a long shot.

Jay Gonzalez, a democrat, was the Secretary of Administration and Finances for the state of Massachusetts under Governor Deval Patrick. He’ll be running to unseat Governor Baker in the upcoming election cycle in 2018. Gonzalez’s potential implementations all follow the trend of “aiming high” to help other people. His work in the public health sector and dedication to improving the lives of the underprivileged carries a lot of weight among Massachusetts voters, and his other policy stances do nothing but strengthen that affirmation. One of Gonzalez’s most important claims is his commitment to finding ways to limit opioid misuse when it comes to medical needs. His work as President and CEO of CeltiCare Health provides him with a healthy background in early developmental stages of education that lead to medical misuses of opioids. Massachusetts has gone a long time without a governor that has looked out for the little people, and Jay Gonzalez is the best chance the state has to get the middle class and lower-income families back on their feet.

Recently, Gonzalez (far left in above picture) appeared alongside gubernatorial candidates Bob Massie and Setti Warren to debate the classic democratic-sided issues that will be challenging the conservative mindsets of Baker voters and Governor Baker himself. Campaign directors and fellows, including myself, were in attendance to both discuss the topics beforehand and appeared as a collective from the Massachusetts Democratic Party. In essence, my idea of “Doing Something” is helping someone else do something, whether that be getting elected to help his constituents, or participating in fundraising efforts, or even posting up in highly populated areas in attempt to get his name out. Gonzalez spoke about early education and the millionaire’s tax not passed by Governor Baker:

“Early education and child care is one of many issues that we need to make progress on. This is an area where this could be a game changing for children in our state, particularly lower income children — the research is really clear on this — and for their parents. If they had access to affordable, good quality child care and preschool, it would allow them to go back to work. This is an area where we’re doing virtually nothing right now, that can make a huge difference for kids and their parents.”

He continued on the millionaire’s tax:

“This is something I think we desperately need. Our governor has said no new taxes. He’s taken no position on this ballot question. This is another example of him sitting on the sidelines and not taking a position. We’ve got to be honest about the fact that we need additional revenue for our transportation system, the T … for education, for things like what I just talked about in terms of early education and care, which will make a huge difference for families in this state. I’m being honest with people, we need that revenue. I think this is a fair way to raise it, which is why I support it. We’re asking those who’ve done great during this economic recovery to pay a little bit more so that we can invest in supporting those families who’ve been having a hard time getting ahead.”

Jay Gonzalez’s run to reunite a polarized state is daunting, but necessary. With people’s mindsets moving so far from center with present day media and a president that tweets his policy summaries, there is no choice but raise a challenger over the bar and let people that are struggling get ahead. It is my pleasure to serve at the discretion of Mr. Gonzalez, and his campaign trail this summer should be an exciting one.

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