Why Massachusetts Candidates Can't Win the Presidency

I believe Mitt Romney is just about as likely to be president as John Kerry was. We'll see how the votes turn out come November, but mark my words, the result this year may be just about the same as it was in 2004 - except the parties will be reversed. The circumstances behind the 2004 and 2012 presidential elections are very different, but there are similarities as well. What is it that the losing candidate and the predicted-to-lose candidate have in common? For one, it's Massachusetts.

Kerry, Romney, and Massachusetts
There have been four Massachusetts presidents: John Adams, J.Q. Adams, JFK, and Bush I. Is it a coincidence that all of them served only one term or less? I won't speculate. However, I will speculate that Kerry and Romney's shared Massachusetts background should be regarded as more than just a coincidence, and it's significant to how one's fate played out and the other's will play out on the national scene.

I've never been to Massachusetts; the closest I've been is New Haven, Connecticut. Nonetheless, my relative ignorance of New England's most populous state won't prevent me from posing the following theory: Politicians in Massachusetts aren't likely to develop the sorts of perspectives and problem-solving strategies that are most appealing to the United States as a whole. To put it bluntly, I think Massachusetts is too unique a state, and perhaps too rich as well.

Now, I'm not saying that rich men don't become president. Obviously, it's pretty much only rich men who become president. What I'm saying is that, any way you look at it, Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states in the union. (So is Alaska, but that's another story). That wealth doesn't make the state a bad place, to be sure, but it must substantially influence the sorts of problems Massachusetts deals with, and how its politicians deal with those problems. Issues up in New England likely differ substantially from the general national scene, both in their nature and in people's attitudes toward dealing with them, while politics in other states like Florida, Texas, Ohio or Virginia may likely conform much more readily to the general sentiments of the whole country. For example, as governor Romney got behind a health care plan that looked very much like the later so-called "Obamacare" act. I'm sure we won't be hearing the end of that anytime soon.

Here are some other perspectives on Romney's comparability to losing candidates of the past, this one comparing him to both Kerry and Al Gore, and this one just to Kerry. These articles make some good points that I agree with, but they don't bring up the Romney-Kerry Massachusetts connection. Now, I'll admit that my whole premise is a little facetious; I'm sure there are many people and politicians from Massachusetts who, under the right conditions, could certainly become president. (After all, it's already happened four times.) And of course, I mean no disrespect to the state itself, especially since I've never even been there. However, I still stand by my theory that Massachusetts isn't likely anymore to produce viable centrist presidential candidates. George H.W. Bush, the last president from the state, never held office there, and he won in 1988 by defeating Michael Dukakis - the governor of Massachusetts.

Comments