In a matter of hours, early on Wednesday morning Israeli time, we will know the winner of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary taking place in New Hampshire. The Iowa caucuses, which require hours of attendance and discussions among participants, usually kicks off the nomination process, this year sowed confusion, in the wake of failed technology. Nevertheless, other states, more diverse than New Hampshire, will anoint the candidate through whom to put the United States back on the path of justice and equality..
Even at his stage, we know what we need in a leader. Though he started late, Deval Patrick, the former two-term governor of Massachusetts, deserves serious attention. His personality will reknit the social fabric torn asunder over the past three years and his policies will bind the nation’s wounds, to borrow from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
The Republican Party, screams the loudest, as it dehumanizes immigrants and denounces free expression. However, candidates in the Democratic race rail pejoratively against “millionai[r]es and billionai[r]es,” as if having a lot of money, by itself, makes someone a crook. Experience shows otherwise. Moreover, taxes on wealth, rather than income taxes or on estates passing at death, will be hard to collect and just punish success. Talk of these types of taxes allows people to vent against economic inequity, without really doing anything about it. Besides, the proposals will never pass Congress.
Deval Patrick, 63 and African American, grew up poor on the South Side of Chicago. Through a mentor, he had an opportunity to leave home to attend a private school in New England for privileged children. Next, he graduated from Harvard University. He went to work for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, later for the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department, where he fought to gain for others their rights under the law and the benefits he received from society. He pursued his task through conciliation, not through anger and strife.
As governor of Massachusetts, he gained a reputation as a steady hand, earning enduring popularity, even to this day. Similarly, though he made a fortune in business after leaving office, he is running for president to apply his prescriptions to our troubled times. The US sorely needs, not someone who can channel President Obama’s speech patterns, but one who can copy his calming influence in the White House. To quote a cliche, we need to learn again how to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
What about policy? Unlike the rest of the field, whose most executive experience amounts to serving as mayor of a small Midwestern college town, Patrick spent eight years as governor of a major and diverse state. Two areas illustrate his strength: one regards concerns of Jews, and second, climate change, which concerns every citizen of the world, especially in light of recent weather anomalies in Israel, Australia and the northwestern US.
Patrick, a friend of President Obama, has a strong record with Jews and Israel. He backed his rhetoric with action. According to the Jewish Political Guide, not only did he stand with Israel, appearing at events and gatherings in 2012 and 2013, he served on the board of Our Generation Speaks, a group to bring together entrepreneurs of Israeli and Palestinian extraction to improve the economies of both. In addition, his steady hand in dealing with the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 shows that he will ably navigate crises in the Middle East, including terrorist attacks.
On climate change, again, every Democrat represents an improvement over the climate deniers now in power at the federal level. However, Patrick showed he can accomplish what others speak about. A little over a year ago, Democrats floated the Green New Deal, a conglomeration of goals aimed at eliminating fossil fuels and assuring every American of a job — pie in the sky, many called it. However, in a more moderate way, Governor Patrick produced progress in Massachusetts. Named as Green Governor of the Year in 2013, his program included not just renewable energy, but energy efficiency for sectors requiring fossil fuels or those powered by electricity generated from fossil fuel. He also succeeded in steadily creating jobs in the new energy economy.
He took a practical and realistic, though not ideologically pure, approach.
He may operate under the radar, but Deval Patrick merits consideration for president.