an obession with first principles

Boston Mid-term Primaries: Capuano

Posted: Wednesday Sep 5th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: In the News, Politics | View Comments

Boston saw a lot of political change in the democratic party last night. I won’t recap the results, either you already know it, or you’re going to very soon. I want to explain my perspective on Capuano.

I live in Capuano’s district. I have been happy to have him as my representative. I don’t have any bones to pick with him, his policy platform, or his voting record. But I did not vote for him, and I’m glad Pressley won.

I was very curious to understand why he was being challenged in a primary by a Boston city councilor. Like many other, I wondered what they was to gain by replacing a person with seniority; specifically a member of the House Transportation committee when we need all the federal dollars we can get here to fix the numerous transportation problems we do have, with a junior member who would more-or-less vote precisely the same way he has voted, and would likely vote.

In my mind there are two arguments against him, and the first is rather simple. The MA-7th (he used to be the 8th prior to re-districting but his constituents remained mostly the same) is a majority-minority district and it would only make sense that a minority ought to represent them in the House. Pressley will be the very first minority to represent the entire state in the House (there was one previous black Senator). Many have made this argument before but, to many others, this doesn’t pack enough punch.

There is a second argument, that I have, that I have not seen anyone else put forward. And this argument is loosely tied to the first. Based on his response to a question about Kaepernick Capuano had this to say: “I thought that particular action divided America, because he chose to do it during the national anthem,”..”I just thought it could have been done in a way that would have [brought] more people into the discussion, rather than actually anger an awful lot of America”.

As a 20 year Congressman from Boston, a leader in the democratic party (and if we’re not calling him a leader, why isn’t he after 20 years — that is a different failure all-together), if he cannot get the answer to this question right he needs to lose his seat to someone who does get it right. Both he and the GOP share the same framing of the Kaepernick-issue, as well as who is important in this issue: white television watchers.

That is, simply put, not permissible from someone calling themselves progressive. This is not permissible from someone representing a majority-minority district. He lost because he should of. And, he lost the minority neighborhoods hard, while barely coming out ahead in upper-middle class white neighborhoods. This is why he conceded so quickly.

The issue at the heart of these primaries is one of culture. Capuano is not demonstrating a culture in the democratic party that is going to win again the GOP. And this has been a failure of the party for nearly four decades, and why they’ve been losing statehouse after statehouse and governor’s seat after seat. This is what needs to change. And I’m glad its starting.