The 61 New Best Things About Boston
1. The Rest of the Country Secretly Wants to Be Like Us
It’s been several decades since Massachusetts was considered a trusted member of the Union. Sure, the American experiment traces its roots to our state, but as far as our modern-day countrymen—with certain pockets of California excepted—are concerned, things here just got a little too weird over the past century. It’s hard to say exactly why (McGovern in ’72?), but somehow we came to be regarded as simply too out of touch, too out of step, too…European. So distasteful was our particular strain of progressiveness, they had to dream up a slur just to differentiate us from the more commonplace lefties: The Massachusetts Liberal. When the Democrats held their 2004 national convention in Boston, it seemed to many observers the perfect marriage of cause and locale. Jay Leno remarked that summer that “the Democrats are like the Red Sox. They’re optimistic in the spring, concerned in the summer, and ready to choke in the fall.”
A few months after that, of course, the Red Sox conquered the baseball universe, winning their first World Series in 86 years. You could smell the change in the air. Nobody’s mocking us anymore. (Mitt Romney can attest to the effectiveness of making sport of this state.) In fact, recent doings in the rest of the country suggest that our fellow Americans are scrambling to catch up with all the liberal developments here.
When we became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, critics demanded to know what was next—men marrying kangaroos? An outraged President Bush vowed to do whatever was necessary to “defend the sanctity of marriage.” Well, it’s four years later, and the sanctity of equal marriage seems secure. While we remain the only state to sanction full gay marriage, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey have followed our lead and now authorize civil unions, and several others, including California, extend domestic benefits. Even Iowa—Iowa!—has gotten in on our act, with the Supreme Court there considering whether the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. Massachusetts, sprouting justice in the cornfields of Iowa.
Further proof that the spirit of Massachusetts truly is the spirit of America: Our introduction of universal healthcare two years ago was derided as socialist drivel—a fantasy best left to dreamers. Or Swedes. Well, hälsning, comrades! California’s attempt to copy us fell apart in its legislature (yeah, you’ve got those impressive emission standards, Golden Staters, but when it comes to first-rate pinko policy, we’re eating your organic, free-range, locally grown lunch), but the major Democratic candidates for president this year all made universal healthcare a cornerstone of their campaign. Hell, they even ripped off our idea for providing it!
Speaking of the campaign: Barack Obama may have lost the Massachusetts primary, but like the rest of America, he cannot get enough of our state. When he’s not rolling out both our senators at rallies across the country, he’s cribbing the odd stump line from our governor.
Massachusetts, of course, made Deval Patrick only the second elected black state chief executive. Coincidence, then, that the country may be poised to elect its first black president? Obama’s drive for the White House has, at times, resembled Patrick’s push for Beacon Hill. Both are reformers who took on establishment candidates. Both are sharp thinkers and mesmerizing speakers who energized voters with messages of “hope” and “change.” Maybe Obama really is some kind of Manchurian candidate…from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.
We could go on—Boston was recently named the third-greenest city, our senate president has filed the first bill outlawing pharmaceutical company gifts to doctors—but the evidence is already overwhelming. As goes the Massachusetts Liberal, so goes the nation. —John Gonzalez and John Wolfson