I never personally met Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who died last week, but I saw the work he had done in the city for the past two decades.
When I returned to the city in the early 1970s after college, the harbor waterfront was a collection of rotting piers, lower Washington Street was the Combat Zone, where you could buy anything for a few bucks and the neighborhoods were struggling to stay alive.
I’ve been back to Boston many times since and the city now is alive with construction, activity and tourists. From what I’ve read, Menino deserves a lot of the credit for the latest Boston turnaround because of his determined leadership .
And it seems it was not just the business district that got his attention, but the neighborhoods as well, because what Menino knew was that unless business growth and civic improvements helped everyone, they would fall short of their goal.
Menino as a mayor was a builder.
Oh, sure he was a politician and stepped on toes and cuddled with the moneychangers and all those terrible things that politicians do. But it seems that while he cuddled, he told them that unless the average Bostonian was going to be helped by their project he might not support it.
Looking at Boston today, it seems they got the message.
While thinking of Menino, Former Wharton Mayor Harry Shupe came to mind. I covered the town for the Daily Record and got to know Shupe and his council.
Shupe was a builder.
He looked at the town’s empty industrial park 30 odd years ago and said his hometown was not going to die. So they all went to work and today Wharton in one of the pleasant towns in Morris County.
We have a choice on Tuesday’s election.
The ballot is littered with those who sacrificed their office for political obstinacy and barely showed up to work or those who showed up to work and did more damage that the do-nothings because, you know, they have a philosophy, and whether it worked or not, they were elected to jam that square peg into that round hole.
It is a curious election.
The nation is safer than it has been in years, despite the mess in the Middle East, because when has there not been a mess in the Middle East. The economy is better by all measures, even though there are still problems, but a growing economy provides the chance to address those problems in a way that stagnation does not.
Things in general are not as bad at the radio and TV chatterboxes would have you believe, but somehow their view carries the day because we have become more accustomed to complaining than doing.
One example: We have all heard about how President Obama’s approval rate is in a freefall, when this year it dropped exactly one point.
He has a higher approval rating at this point than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush had at the same point in their presidencies. But that is the media’s meme. So it must be true.
We’ve just gotten so used to watching our selfies on our smartphones that we fail to analyze the information we are presented. Open mouth, empty shovel.
So when do we start reclaiming our sanity and gain control again?
How about Tuesday.
Elections are about the future. And the future represents progress. And progress has a liberal bias.
So do the builders.
They want to fill in empty downtowns with jobs and new residents, want buses and trains to move people, want cleaner cars and safer roads, want more housing to get homeless families off the streets, want veterans to get medical care and job training; want educators to be treated with dignity, and all workers to be afforded the respect their hard work deserves; want average citizens not just businesses to get a break on their taxes; want to impose practical, comprehensive solutions to long-standing problems; they want people to be fed and school children to have a real chance at success; want their towns to be pleasant places to live and enjoy.
Change is scary, but doing nothing is scarier still.
The builders roll up their sleeves and go to work.
It’s time for everyone else to join in.
It’s time to vote for the builders.
Michael Stephen Daigle