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May 31, 2014 / harmonywho

My Endorsement: Don Berwick for Governor

I’m Supporting Don Berwick for Massachusetts Governor!

personal endorsement from  Harmony Wu

Don-Berwick-logos5This election cycle I’ve been very slow and cautious about committing myself to candidates. I wanted to make sure that my priorities and concerns were being heard, and I wanted time to see the candidates develop on the trail.

Since diving in in 2008, my primary motivation has been POLICY — how our daily, lived, lives are organized by politics — not personalities and candidates. So I pick my candidates based on their positions, and whether or not they can pull us back into the direction we need to go.

Politically and policy-wise, we’ve been sliding right-ward inexorably. Who will stop that process? Not just with the bully pulpit, which is important, but then who will lead the hard effort to get that work done, step by step?

I believe that Don Berwick is the one candidate who can lead us back.

You can read more about Don Berwick’s career, experience and personal story, here: berwickforgovernor.com/about-don. And you can research his positions and find more about his campaign also at the site. (And Stacie Shapiro has been organizing tons of useful information on the governor’s race, here: hmny.me/staciegov2014)

Instead of covering that ground, I want to talk about why and how I’ve come to support Don Berwick.

In the crowd is a number of Needham grassroots activists supporting Don Berwick for Governor (including me!)

The Substance.

While I had always respected him and particularly admired his strong single-payer stance, Don Berwick first stood out to me as someone I should pay attention to when I read thru the Progressive Mass questionnaires (progressivemass.com/2014govmain).

I was disappointed –and surprised to be disappointed– with some of the OTHER candidates, whom I had expected to win me over on the substance.  I found too much caution, centrism and vagueness.

But Don Berwick’s questionnaire immediately stood out as articulating a clear point of view — realistic and progressive — and a clear commitment to seeking the progressive way forward.  In particular I was impressed with his responses on health care (no surprise), revenue and jobs; I urge you to take a look. (progressivemass.com/2014govmain — click to the individual sections)

Leading on progressive issues – it matters.

Some argue it is more important or realistic for candidates to stay within the limits of what conventional wisdom deems “reasonable” — don’t aim for the ideal, don’t even talk about the ideal, b/c it will never happen. “We shouldn’t set ourselves up to fail!”

I cannot disagree with that view more– we don’t fail as long as we move forward toward the ideal. We fail when we give up the fight from the get-go–which we do all too often, pre-conceding the debate. We need leaders who insist we move that way, not be comfortable living in the zone of pre-compromise.

I may be idealistic, but we’ve seen this borne out already. Don Berwick’s very candidacy has already had an extremely positive impact on the Governor’s race.

When he first entered, none of the candidates even entertained the notion of single payer health care,waving it off as “unrealistic.” All would carefully skirt any question about unfair taxation and raising taxes on the wealthiest (who do not pay their fair share: http://hmny.me/isthisfair).

But Don Berwick rejected the idea that we cannot talk honestly about our ideals and values, and has been out there making the case for progressive taxation and single payer — not as pie in the sky, but rather something we work and organize and lead on, to make it happen.

And guess what? Now all of the candidates are speaking much more about taxation. And are suddenly declaring support for single payer as a realistic goal. Don Berwick dared to step out of conventional wisdom and “safe” politics, and he has literally changed the debate.

This is a kind of leadership we need, on all fronts, to bring Massachusetts — and by example, the rest of the nation — back as the progressive
leader.

He can and will inspire the grassroots.

When I watched Don Berwick at the Progressive Mass Policy Forum, he connected to the audience, all of whom were exhausted, at the very end of the day, in a way that truly stunned me. [progressivemass.com/govforumvideo]

I spoke with several people afterward who declared he’d won their support on the spot, that they SWITCHED their votes, and even that he inspired them, brought tears to their eyes and — seriously — reminded them of Barack Obama in 2004 at the convention.

These were not supporters already. These were skeptical, uncommitted people, even people who were leaning towards other candidates. It was almost unbelievable, except, I saw it happening and felt it myself! And, in case you don’t know, I’m pretty hard-boiled–I’m a tough audience.berwick pbs

I share this because, some say, at first glance, he does not seem like he’d be an inspiring candidate, so I wanted to let you know, if you haven’t given him a good chance yet, go out there and see!

And personally, I haven’t been terribly engaged in this race. But I am now itching to get out on doors for Don Berwick. I’m excited for voters to learn more about him, and it will be a pleasure to tell that story and message at the doors!

I hope you’ll be in touch and let me know your thoughts on the race and the campaigns!  And I’m always happy to sit down and talk some more!

–Harmony

For my vote recommendations in other primary races, please read here

 

UPDATE: On Blue Mass Group, I wrote the following: 

The real point is that there IS a clear distinction between Don Berwick’s platform/campaign messaging and the other candidates.

It’s a matter of whether the “DIFFICULT” — yet utterly crucial to long-term transformational change – progressive positions are being underplayed rhetorically (“don’t want to alienate those Scott Brown Democrats!”), and whether those DIFFICULT but crucial policies are the aggressive center of the platform — or safely marginalized.

Just as I never doubted that ,even though he said he was against it, Barack Obama actually DID “believe in” gay marriage, I do not doubt that most (probably not all) of the other D candidates “believe in” just/fair taxation and single-payer in their liberal heart of hearts [even though Berwick is the only candidate unambiguously supporting these policies].

It’s (past) time, though, for simply “believing in” these policies: it’s time for someone (and many someones…*cough* *legislature*) to LEAD ON THESE PRIORITIES.

We didn’t put a man on the moon by thinking small. JFK set an agenda/goal, and the national will bent toward achieving it.

Let’s demand a Governor who Thinks Big! Let’s make the case, frame the debate, set the priorities and create the agenda!

Yes, it’s always necessary and important to have electeds who work within a system to kick it out a little more/wider. But transformative change doesn’t happen by patiently conceding to “That’s the way things are done”– transformative change happens because we demand it.

You have to pinch me because so often I fret that Senator Elizabeth Warren is a dream: she’s got the platform and she’s putting up a FIGHT for transformational changes. What if we had 50 similar leaders in the Senate? What if we had one such leader in the White House? I love my President, and I know what he’s up against, but he’s not bully-pulpitting on transformational change (e.g., Obamacare vs. Singlepayer, heck, Obamacare vs. Public Option). What if we’d had a Governor Berwick instead of Governor Romney? Just think how much closer would “Obamacare” be to single payer.

Setting a bold, transformational progressive agenda — that’s a qualitative and quantitative difference that puts Don Berwick head and shoulders above the other candidates.

More and more, I realize how so incredibly LUCKY to have in Don Berwick such a qualified, experienced, battle-tested candidate who is LEADING on transformational progressive change. 

[see the whole conversation on Blue Mass Group: progma.us/bmgpmdb]

[UPDATE: centralized resource list: http://progressivemass.com/needhamforberwick]

LINKS/RESOURCES TO HELP YOU RESEARCH — NOT JUST DON BERWICK BUT ALL OF THE CANDIDATES

Resources… ALL candidates! (MORE HERE: progressivemass.com/needhamforberwick)

Useful Links – Don Berwick

Worth watching:

 

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