Wednesday, July 13, 2011
For The Hill on 7/14/11
I hope that when she finishes her gig at the new consumer bureau which is in the words today of CNN Money, is “set to sail with no captain” Elizabeth Warren remembers where she came from. She may be an “Oklahoma grandmother” but I hope she comes back to New England. I’d love to see her run for governor up here. Because in my 60-some years as a New Englander she returns us to something we left behind some time ago: A New England work ethic. Work ethic, self reliance and rugged individual character were synonymous with Emerson’s New England and even Thoreau’s. But we, the Irish, who commandeered the neighborhood these past hundred years, had a somewhat different approach.
Indeed, those W.A.S.P.s – White Anglo-Saxon Protestants – like Warren were the universal object of scorn through the Sixties and Seventies. But by pitching ourselves against Protestant New England until we drove them all to Texas, it left us debilitated and to some degree it poisoned Massachusetts and the Democratic Party. And it didn’t do Texas much good. To the degree that we came to see the dark before we could see the light. It is not for nothing that every movie ever made about South Boston is either about fighting or drinking.
Jack Kennedy gave us our turn. But we then brought our oppositionalism to a national scale and transferred the debilitating Boston Irish v. Boston Unitarian/Episcopalian to a national scale. And other ethnics and minorities joined the opposition. The condition broke with Ronald Reagan and for the first time entire ethnic northeastern neighborhoods voted Republican. For the first time we were no longer Irish, but American and could vote for whomever we wanted. But viral ethnic karma remained in Boston and Uncle Teddy – considered by many of us from the old neighborhood to be the dark brother - carried oppositionalism to its very end game. Which made authentic and original opposition say to the war in Iraq difficult for you if your allies always opposed everything.
I first felt a delightful sea change in the Democratic ranks when Mark Warner was elected governor of Virginia. With Wes Clark as well and then Jim Webb of Virginia. Warner brought prosperity to the South, and Clark and Webb, along with Russ Feingold, brought character and singular courage to the issues, much like the stand-alone, venerable old war horse, Senator Robert C. Bryd, of West Virginia. I would say that Representative Dennis Kuchinich has earned a place today in that select group with his opposition to the illegal invasion of Libya.
But what the Democrats wanted was a “rock star.” Left over from the Sixties much?
If Warren doesn’t get her position there is other work to be done. How about a consumer’s agency on torture or random and illegal invasions of foreign lands which have no bearing whatsoever on national security? How about running for governor of Massachusetts? How about considering a regional authority to study relative economic, moral and cultural issues in post-ethnic New England so we can begin to solve our own problems instead of relying on the one-size-fits-all model designed for the colonies and the vast and endless North American forest which surrounded them in 1776.
How about rebuilding the Democratic Party here again from scratch, without the dark mask and with NEW ENGLAND values. How about running for president in 2016?