Boston politics has always been ‘machine politics’–where power is centralized, consolidated, and tightly controlled in the hands of a few, ostensibly for the benefit of ‘the many.’ Unfortunately, whoever happens to be wielding power understands ‘the many’ as mostly class- and color-coded.
Every four years, however, the concept of ‘the many’ is really encouraged to breathe–to find its broadest possible expanse; to stretch to embrace and accommodate, in fact, enough of the voting public. This is when those who wield power loosen the reigns long enough so some of the rainwater trickles down to the grassroots. And like art, water is life.
And so it is that today Martin J. Walsh‘s campaign signs have papered over Mattapan Square with ‘walking around money.’ Curiously though, the racially-displaced (’cause they ain’t from ’round here), candy-sucking panhandlers were no where to be found today. And in case you missed it, Mayor Walsh needs to explain (among other things) these new ‘editions’ to Mattapan Square.
As Mayor, Walsh held a community meeting about his adminstration’s intent to re-locate Transitions from Long Island to Mattapan, but only after it came to light. There, he gave Mattapan residents every assurance that their quality of life would not be effected, in any way, because the Transitions program would not allow its residents to roam freely in the neighborhood. This, it turns out, was not to be the case.
So more than anything, the critical question at stake in the coming primary election is not whether Mattapan voters should fill in an oval or write-in a name. The critical question Mattapan voters need to ask themselves is, do we want to simply recreate the machine under this, or any, ‘boss?’
Perhaps our neighborhood would fare better if Boston politics were organized in some other way? One thing’s for certain: the people of Mattapan deserve better.