19
Sep
06

Conflict

It’s primary day.  Vote Aqui!  I remember the signs from NYC, when I used to vote at the Wagner school on East 76th Street.  I hung one of those signs in my kitchen for years, next to my world map showing proportions of women in government around the globe.  Go Scandinavia!

Now I sit here in my kitchen, conflicted over what I expect is my next move at the Alexander Hamilton school on Strathmore Road.  I will not be voting for Deval Patrick, the Black Bootstraps Progressive, but for Chris Gabrieli, the Venture Capitalist with detailed plans and 5 kids (do people have such big families anymore, other than the Orthodox Jews scattered throughout my ‘hood?).  I admit it, though woefully, I am enticed by Gabrieli’s thought-through plans and his cheezy use of the word “Results.”  (Although I am anti-gaming in all its forms; thanks mom!)  There is no doubt fond memories of Mayor Bloomberg color my orientation towards the business man-turned-politician. 

Not that Deval doesn’t have plenty o’private sector experience.  At this point, most candidates have done their time, in order to make their millions, which is a baseline for being able to run for any position, it seems.  (Wesley: what are our fundraising strategies???)  And in theory, Deval says all the right things, hits on all the right issues.  But he’s so…vague….how will these ideas work?  How will we pay for them?  Who will benefit beyond the nebulous interest groups (e.g., the disabled) he mentions?  While I might want to spar with Gabrieli over gaming or reducing taxes, it’s clear he’s been making plans, and I am certainly charmed by his emphasis on turning declining cities (“Forgotten,” we called them in a department speaker series my first year) into regional hubs, urban anchors.  It’s nice to see someone thinking about Springfield, Lawrence, New Bedford, etc. 

Deval tells the right story – from inner-city poverty to corporate executive, given a scholarship to boarding school that set him on this course.  Settling in his adopted state and moving his entire family here.  The first to go to college, etc.  It’s the story I’ll probably tell when the time comes.  But…based on how I’ve heard him speak so far, he’s also my worst nightmare of what I might become – whiny, defensive, the smart kid you want to rough up at recess because he’s prone to being smug in the classroom and quick to squeal on the rule breakers.  This is perhaps grossly unfair – I’ve heard coverage of the man probably 3 times.  But so far, he sets me on edge.  Reminds me of the community I orbit in, over in the Tower on the Other Side of the Charles (OSC?), and brings me back around to my on-going conflict of pursuing intellect and equity without completely losing touch with the rest of the world.  Just the fact that he conjures up a familiar notion of us v. them makes me uneasy. 

Not that I relate to your average politician; they are overwhelming rich, male, highly educated and out of touch.  But something about this guy really alienates me; I sense that if we were in the classroom together, I’d want to punch him in the nose.  This is in part because my conflict between reconciling my place among the intelligentsia with my urban, working-class roots is at an all time high, based largely on listening to an abstract discussion of my relatives and history in an MIT classroom for the last week.  I hope I can tell a success story someday like Deval’s – goodness, I’m on my way, I still marvel over this whole MIT development!  But if so, may I stay rooted and keep my head out of my ass.  I will never have the charming “C student” appeal of Dubya, but perhaps my consistent poor conduct marks will endear me to others who also spent half their educational life in the back of the classroom, or just off school grounds entirely. 

It’s a shame; I’m a big proponent of supporting women and minority candidates – there are not enough of us in leadership roles, and research shows that our biggest barriers to entry are at the “hiring” phase and in early stages of promotion.  This is why so much political action around increasing our representation focuses on increasing our ranks at the local level.   As we advance through private and public systems, possibilities of advancement become more equitable.  It’s getting our foot in the door that’s the hardest part. 

When I am a particularly uninformed voter, I will vote by gender and/or race, sometimes across party lines.   But I’m growing out of that practice, for better and worse.  So here I go, casting my vote for another white man.  My choice for Lt. Governor is Deb Goldberg, the Brookline Jew whose family founded Stop & Shop.  The Ladies, the ladies!  I’m down as an honorary MOT (thanks Deis!), though dismayed at yet another gazillionaire telling me how my society and economy will work for me.  I wonder, how will I downplay my wealth once I make my millions from captivating the blogosphere?

 

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