Friday, March 9, 2007

Michael Dukakis and Me

Pictured above is Michael Dukakis, who was Governor of Massachusetts on two occasions and the losing candidate in the 1988 presidential election.

He seems like a nice man, and his riding of the Boston subway to work is no urban legend. I lived in his town, Brookline, the year before his presidential run and saw him on the train many times.

1988 was the first presidential election I was eligible to vote in. I was a lot more left-leaning then than I am now, probably due to a lingering adolescent rebellion against my Republican grandfather and my immersion in punk and hardcore music. In spite of this I could not bring myself to vote for my affable, train-riding neighbor when November came around.

Dukakis, as a Governor, represented the least admirable impulses of liberalism; the points I always had to concede when my grandfather and I would have our spirited debates.

One of his first acts in office was commuting the sentences of 21 first degree murderers. He remained a friend of the criminal throughout his career, supporting a prison furlough program that was used against him by both Al Gore in the Democratic primary and George H.W. Bush in the general election. One of the beneficiaries of this affront to common sense was Willie Horton, who commited rape and assault in Maryland when on furlough. Gore was the first to point out this inconvenient truth but it was Bush's people who effectively made Horton Dukakis' running mate.

Dukakis' cowardly response was to sign on to the "war on drugs" and sponsor draconian legislation indicating mandatory three year sentences for coke dealers in Massachusetts. This was meant to shore-up his reputation of being "tough on crime". Luckily he was able to do this without betraying his beloved violent offenders.

I often wonder how I would have reacted if the Democrats had shown some backbone and opposed the drug witch hunt of the 80s the same way they opposed the red witch hunt of the 50s. I wonder also how much more support I'd have for them if the left hadn't embraced the censorship it once stood against.

But in a way I came of age politically in 1988. Michael Dukakis was a man who was unfit to be President and George H.W. Bush was a continuation of the Reagan legacy.

I voted for Ron Paul.

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