It’s been clear for a while now that our governor does not care much for the administration that is still taking shape in Washington D.C. this week. Charlie Baker did not cast a ballot in the presidential race and over the last year he was at least mildly critical of candidate Trump’s more outlandish insults and bad behavior.
He attended the inauguration last week out of a sense of obligation— as did most Democrats who are our delegates in Congress— and he was right to do so. The peaceful transfer of power represented by the solemn Jan. 20 ceremony is the beating heart of our republic.
But, after all that has transpired since last Friday at noon, it is no longer sufficient for the chief executive of Massachusetts to be simply irritated by Trump and his absurdist view of the world. Trumpism is no longer a theoretical threat; it’s an existential one that is being manifested in actions, orders and, yes, tweets that — taken together— leave no doubt that the man sworn in as commander-in-chief last week is unworthy of the office.
Our Commonwealth should expect our governor to stand up forcefully against the looming menace emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue — a menace that is already projecting signs of authoritarianism with an alarming staccato of “alternative fact” nonsense that would be laughable were it not now being conceived within the Oval Office.
“Our obligation to the people we serve is too important to place politics and partisanship before progress and results,” Baker said in his State of the State address on Tuesday evening. “The changes in Washington don’t change this powerful obligation. Our jobs remain the same. That is to represent Massachusetts to Washington and not Washington to Massachusetts.”
But, the job has changed. Baker’s formula for governing— a sound one at the time of his election and throughout the first half of his term in office—became obsolete last Friday. The Commonwealth— like other states that will soon be confronted with federal fiats that take aim at the very composition of people and principles shared by Baker and his Democratic allies alike— must be led by someone who understands that new reality. There can be no “common ground” found with a federal administration that seeks to arrest and deport parents from our neighborhoods. How does one compromise with a person— let alone a president— who just straight-up lies or who insults women?
We expect our leaders on the local level— our governor included — to follow the footsteps of the historic women-led march that drew 175,000 people to the Boston Common on Saturday. We need fighters, people who will pick a side— our side, the one that Massachusetts has long stood for— and tell the Radical Republicans of the Trumpist variety to go pound sand. The republic will survive this presidency, but we don’t have to go-along to get-along.
This is the cradle of American democracy. We revolted to end tyranny from abroad and to empower one another to govern our own communities. We marched to put down a rebellion that took aim at extending chattel slavery in this nation and throughout the Americas. We led the way to extend suffrage to all genders and to end the systematic persecution of LGBTQ Americans.
It’s true that Governor Baker is in a tough spot. We all are.
The Republican Party has recklessly enabled the elevation of a greed-fueled, misogynistic liar to the White House. Men and women who serve this Commonwealth must actively resist his administration’s excesses at every turn.
We hope Gov. Baker will join that cause; but if he does not, he should not seek re-election to another term as our governor.