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February 28, 2008



To the author: So what's your point?

Ron Newman

There were at least three separate 'Progressive Party' organizations during the 20th century: Teddy Roosevelt's, Robert LaFollette's, and Henry Wallace's.

Truth Fan

This is a harsh assessment, although not entirely inaccurate. I think that it's good that the editorial distinguishes between progressives and PDS. As I understand it, a number of the progressives who have been living here for a generation or more are disappointed with PDS.

I don't know whether this will make a difference to the many readers who post here and think that "progressive," is just a name for everything that they despise.

Interestingly, the one thing that PDS has done that seems clearly innovative, doesn't have much to do with Somerville. The Massachusetts Democratic Party regularly writes a platform and then ignores it. The PDSers invented a "score card" to show which Democratic Party legislators were paying lip service to the platform and then acting like hypocrites.


CONSERVATIVE def: disposition in politics to preserve what is established b: a political philosophy based on tradition.

LIBERAL def: A political philosophy based on belief in progress. Webster's, check it out.

So I guess "liberal ideas [do] a progressive group make"

Sorry Yoda. But that's the truth.

Paulie Bonnani

I am not a Somerville native, but I lived near Winter Hill between 1999 to today though my mother is from here. I grew to dislike these progressives for a number of reasons. My major issue with them is that they don't understand the city, they think they do, but their more concerned with pushing the trendy ideas. Take for instance support of illegal aliens. Those of us who are middle class do not support illegal aliens because they are effecting our lives directly. From overcrowding our schools, wasting public resources, lowering our quality of life and taking jobs. These proggressives support them because they are naive suburbanites. They aren't effected by the outcomes of their policies so they can't see why the majority of us disagree with them. They are selfish and smug, they refuse to listen to anyone with opposing views. An example was back in 2005 when Pat Jehlen was running for office. A young kid came to my doorstep talking about how Pat Jehlen is good for me for x reasons. I asked him where he was from and he said California. I asked him why someone from California is advocating for change here. I asked him how long he has lived here and he said 6 months. I have no problem with new people moving here, but it seems that people are moving here because its trendy and because their is a cabal of politicians who support their ideas not ours. People, its time to seep through the grey that clouds our minds and see who these people are. These kids are nothing more trustfund babies who use Somerville as a way to live their fake bohemian lifestyle. Do you honestly think they will be here in 10 years. Like me, I bet you see that many of these kids use Somerville as a stepping stone for careers in policy and politics. The natives are the ones who lose. Your city has become a lab for these people to test their ideas. They don't care about the outcome because it doesn't effect them. Most of them live of their parents money (most I have met, not all) and aren't effected by the negative repercussions from their ideas.

Shava Nerad

Massachusetts in general, and yes Somerville in specific, is suffering under the burden of very rusty machine politics.

When I left Cambridge in 1989, my Cambridgeport neighborhood was full of triple deckers with three to five generations of Greek families, and rents were just becoming insane as the condos came in. A couple years ago, when I returned from sixteen years in the rest of the world (NC, OR), I moved to West Somerville partly because it reminded me more of the feel of my old neighborhood.

When I was in Oregon I was on the Democratic State Committee, and chair of budget/finance for the Multnomah County Dems. As a key member of the Dean campaign there (in a swing county in a swing state) part of my job was to do intake with new political folks, teach them about how the party works and what the real work of politics is on the ground, and some of the practical realities about using the political system to effect social change -- which can involve some "dues paying" within the system, some patience, and some mentorship.

When I returned to Massachusetts, I found a system that was falling apart. Used to be in Ward 5 Cambridge, to get things done, you had to go through the Ward boss. It didn't matter if you were a Democrat or not. If you wanted something from City Hall that was your path. This wasn't considered "corruption," just the way things worked.

I think that the Net and a lot of progressive impulse from *within* the government (and the Dems!) has been wearing down the stubborn insularity of the political machine. Walsh shows that there is change coming, and he's a bridge between the old guard machine politics and a more connected, participatory, progressive front within the established Dems.

But it's been an easy out since the 60's for liberals to look at a system, decide it's corrupt, and want to scrap it. Change that doesn't come incrementally is called "revolution," and it often fails. Change, I believe, should come with mentorship, dialogue, and be an emergent property of passing the torch to a new (not carbon copy) generation of leadership.

Since moving to Somerville, I have seen such a lack of dialogue on all sides. People in the established offices in Somerville feel that anything they say can and will be used against them. Progressive feel stonewalled.

Something has to happen to get these people talking, frankly, and talking details about where things have been and where they could go, and how fast. Right now everything is adversarial, and pitched to a high level of oppositional energy on both sides, so there's really no good way to work toward solutions.

The less one understands about the complexity of the system, the easier it is to be outraged and call for instant fixes. The more one understands about the protectionism and inertia of the old rusting machine, the easier it is to say, "It's not changing fast enough -- throw it out. The people patching it up are just interested in keeping power for themselves."

I might propose that Somerville needs some workshops on civics, government, and depth understanding of the political system that might be open to *all* our residents interested in politics. But that risks exposing the imperfections of a machine that's half bubblegum and baling wire at this point.

Is it better to risk that, and create productive dialogue, or is it better to end up with gridlock in an environment of adversarial snits and little real positive change?

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