Here’s a quiz: Which prominent African-American politician famously said: “The politics of fear is no acceptable alternative to the politics of hope.”
If you answered Barack Obama, you’re wrong …
Just two years after Obama’s now-famous Democratic National Convention speech in Boston where he asked: “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope” --Deval Patrick uttered the aforementioned phrase in a statement to the press.
Barack Obama went on to serve in the U.S. Senate in 2005, and Patrick was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2006. And while Obama’s impact as a senator is harder to evaluate, Patrick’s already disastrous tenure in the executive branch may serve as a microcosm of things to come if Obama were to be elected president. Regardless of their racial similarities, the politics of hope is not the only thing that the junior Illinois senator and presidential candidate and the then-future Governor of Massachusetts have in common.
Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency and Deval Patrick’s campaign to become Governor of Massachusetts in 2006 share many remarkable similarities. And as someone who lived in Red Sox Nation during that campaign, I can attest to how the Deval Patrick playbook is now translating into Obama’s campaign and how that playbook ultimately translates into action or lack there of.
In 2005, Patrick slowly emerged as a little-known gubernatorial Democratic candidate who gained traction by meeting with individual voters and even speaking at small college classes like at my alma mater Emerson College. In those speeches, Patrick began promoting a grassroots movement in the state that supported his idealistic values in a state that had been governed by Republicans for sixteen years. With two Democratic rivals who had stronger name recognition (one was the state’s Attorney General, the other had unsuccessfully run for Lieutenant Governor four years previous), Patrick built his campaign on young volunteers, grassroots supporters and strong persuasive rhetoric about the politics of possibility.