Charlie Baker is in a really big hurry to spread the word about his new populist message. He wants to talk about “the sharp divisions between the wealthiest and those most in need, between those with access to high-quality education and those stuck in failing schools.” (He especially wants to talk about income inequality because other people want to talk about his ambiguous relationship with a venture capital firm where he may or may not be employed. But never mind that.)
Here at hesterprynne dot net, income inequality is a big topic and we offer help to anybody who, like Charlie, says that here in Massachusetts we have two economies, two educational systems, and two kinds of communities. So let’s get started.
Topic one: every campaign understands the importance of picking effective surrogates to reinforce the message. And let’s face it — what Charlie is proposing these days is not exactly familiar territory for the Mass GOP. So here’s a thought: why not turn that very liability into an asset by showcasing Charlie’s persuasiveness with those who have in the past advocated different points of view? I’m thinking of a series of conversion stories — like so many St. Paul’s on the road to Damascus.
First up, State Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman):
Before I talked to Charlie I was utterly opposed to any increase in the minimum wage. In fact, I even filed an amendment to lower the state’s minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25. You’d have thought that every last one of my constituents ran a restaurant or something. But now I totally get that people are struggling to get by on very low wages and I’m entirely comfortable with raising the minimum wage to $10.50. Thanks, Charlie!
Next, State Representative Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton):
Before I talked to Charlie, I was completely unaware that income inequality was an issue. Heck, I even filed bills to eliminate the estate tax in Massachusetts. That tax generates over $200 million in revenue per year, even though it affects only about 1000 of the wealthiest estates. Now I get that what I was proposing was a massive transfer of wealth to the already wealthy and that we should be reducing income inequality instead of increasing it. Thanks, Charlie!
And finally, State Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover)
Before I talked to Charlie, I was totally unconcerned about the children who are stuck in failing schools in our state. In fact, I regularly complained about the “yawning gap” between the large amount of money the state gives to the Lawrence schools (which are very poor) as compared to the schools in my district (which are not). Especially when you throw in my propensity for invoking ethnicity and immigration status at every turn, my comments about Lawrence might sound downright mean-spirited. But, thanks to Charlie, now I get it — equality of opportunity for all!
Aren’t those testimonials compelling? And there are 25 more State Representatives with stories just like them. That’s looking like some real party unity.