Red, White and True: In defense of Charlie Baker

“A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.” –Molière

The moderate Republican is a dying breed. Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker represents one of the last and most powerful proponents of this ideology. Recently, Baker, an anti-Trump Republican, has taken a lot of criticism despite his opposition to the current administration. Merely by being in the same party as President Donald Trump, Baker must stand trial for many of the administration’s decisions. However, Baker cannot completely oppose his own party and so must tread a thin middle line. A moderate in the truest sense of the word, Baker’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative policies deliver high approval ratings. However, there are those on the left who think Baker should be doing more to oppose the Trump administration, such as more strongly supporting the many protests in Boston since the inauguration. On the right, people criticize Baker for being far removed from his fellow Republicans. Although many people will likely support a Democratic candidate for governor in the next gubernatorial election, it would be better for the state to have a Republican governor in office during the Trump administration’s time in Washington.

Having Baker in office is beneficial for Massachusetts because of the higher potential for federal cooperation. As a Republican, Baker can act as a buffer between Trump’s administration and the people of Massachusetts. With a Democratic governor, tensions would be high between the state and the federal government. With a Republican governor, the party identification would allow the two sides to work together more easily. States such as California, where Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has been vocally anti-Trump, have accomplished nothing but drawing Trump’s ire. Meanwhile, Baker’s stance so far has been to condemn Trump’s actions without jumping into the ring and participating in protests. This might make him seem cowardly, but when it comes time to make policy, it will be better to have a governor with a working relationship with Washington rather than one who has burned all his bridges.

Additionally, Baker provides a level of moderation in Massachusetts that is crucial in a federal system. Single party leadership within states tends to lead to trouble. An example of this is Connecticut, where Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s tenure has seen rising taxes, fleeing jobs and a failing economy. When one ideology dominates a state, there is little room for criticism. On the other hand, the balance provided by Baker and the Democratic legislature has led to recent success for Massachusetts. Our current federal government shows the danger of single party rule, and Massachusetts is better off with each party having a check over the other.

Baker is a conflicted standard bearer of the Republican Party. He is a member of the federal majority party but has cast himself outside of the Trump following. People have criticized him for refusing to strongly condemn Trump by taking more decisive action. However, Baker’s greatest asset is not his ability to march in the streets but rather to act within the system and be a leader for Massachusetts. Signing state legislation is a more effective weapon for the governor in his fight against Washington, and it is the one he has chosen to wield.