Eric Cochrane: Governor’s track record

  • In this Dec. 3, 2020, file photo, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks after touring the DCU Center as it gears up to be used as a COVID-19 field hospital for the second time in Worcester. Nancy Lane/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool, File

Published: 2/17/2021 2:24:01 PM

From the beginning, Gov. Charlie Baker has done a poor job handling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts.

Baker dragged his feet at initiating any sort of mask mandate. He has been bad at the vaccine rollout, as the state is near the bottom of rollout performance. Only states like Kansas and Alabama are faring worse.

We cannot seem to get school open again for the students who need in-person learning the most, but Baker has no problem with relaxing restrictions on restaurants and gyms in the state.

There is also the state outside of greater Boston being neglected; eastern Massachusetts has Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium for vaccination sites, but local vaccination sites were slow to be set up. Not to mention the vaccination rollout is straight-up racist in prioritizing only 75 and older right now, and leaving asthma out of Phase 2 consideration. The average lifespan in majority-Black Roxbury is just 59 years.

It strikes me as odd that Baker has not received the same level of local and national criticism rightly aimed at governors such as Andrew Cuomo of New York, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and Ron DeSantis of Florida, given that Massachusetts has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita in the U.S.

It is not just the vaccine rollout and overall performance of controlling COVID-19 where leadership has been lacking. Baker as also dragged his feet on abortion protections, police accountability and climate change. Baker’s lack of imagination has also left public transportation in Boston and other cities in a dire situation.

Baker was unable to show any sort of conviction during the 2020 elections, leaving blank his choice for president, in contrast to Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican who showed conviction in his vote for Joe Biden.

In Massachusetts, we have a strange and superficial habit of electing Republican governors as a means of “balancing” the Democratic legislature, but this has proven to be an unhealthy approach to governing. We need to elect someone in 2022 who is interested in helping people’s lives get better, rather than just asking if it seems like a bipartisan balance, whatever that means, to make wealthy white people in the state feel warm and fuzzy. This approach did not work in the 1990s and the early 2000s, and it is not working now.

People who have lost the most during the pandemic are not thinking about some vague concept of bipartisanship, but rather they are thinking about they can get the support they need the most, which is not going to come from Baker’s small, spineless thinking, but instead from a bold, coherent and forward-thinking agenda.

Eric Cochrane lives in Amherst.

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