Last week’s cover story in U.S. News & World Report that ranks Massachusetts as the overall top state in the nation comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked and lived in the Commonwealth for most of our lives.
Although we will be the first to concede that there are many aspects of life in our state that can be improved and we certainly have problems that need to be addressed, Massachusetts has succeeded where others have failed primarily because of the remarkable level of stability in our state government for almost two generations.
Ironically, during this time period the legislature has remained overwhelmingly Democratic, but the governorship has been in Republican hands for all but eight of the past 28 years. One would think that with this sort of ideological split on Beacon Hill, gridlock would be the result of any efforts to move the state forward.
But just the opposite has been the case on matters both big and small, ranging from education reform in the early 1990s to the landmark health reform act 10 years ago that served as a model for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) at the national level.
In addition, Massachusetts has been in the forefront on matters of social progressiveness and personal freedom on issues such as marriage equality (in a decision written by a Republican-appointee to our Supreme Judicial Court) and marijuana decriminalization (by a vote of the people).
So what has been the secret to our success? Generally speaking, it can be summed up this way: A broad consensus by our citizenry on the direction of our state and elected leaders who reflect that consensus and who then work to implement the people’s will.
In our view, the present leadership triad on Beacon Hill — Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Bob DeLeo, and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg — epitomize what has been working in our state for nearly 30 years. They are leaders who, despite their differences, work together to make our state the best it can be. They understand that adhering to a strict ideology is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they constructed our government of checks-and-balances. In short, they put into action the truth of the axiom attributed to Henry Clay that politics is the art of compromise.
So we applaud Gov. Baker, House Speaker DeLeo, and Senate President Rosenberg for their efforts in helping our state attain such lofty heights.
And we also give ourselves, the people of Massachusetts, a well-deserved pat-on-the-back for making our state a shining star to which people from all over the world are drawn. As our grandmother, Zita Quigley, was fond of saying: “Even a dog likes a pat on the head every once in a while.”