Massachusetts' Dwindling Political Muscle

From the first days of the United States, Massachusetts has exhibited outsize influence (see: Adams, John and Revolutionary War, The). And sure, as we added states, we may have lost some political strength, but even in the late 20th century, we were boosted by canny deal-making by the Kennedy Clan and former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

Unfortunately, in we recent years, we seem to have lost more of our mojo. Over the weekend, Fox 25 aired a segment questioning whether Massachusetts has lost its political clout due to retirement (and death):

Influential politicians in Massachusetts were once able to secure money for roads and bridges, education, and technology; however, it seems the Bay State is losing clout in Washington, D.C.

The Big Dig, major universities, states of the art hospitals, defense contracts and construction projects in Massachusetts can be attributed to a delegation of influential lawmakers, including the late Senator Ted Kennedy, retired Congressman Barney Frank, and Congressman John Olver.

Losing Kennedy, Frank, and Olver has definitely hurt our standing — all three were senior legislators able to pull in major projects. But to be fair, we still have Reps. Ed Markey (35-year tenure) and Richard Neal (23-year tenure), as well as Senator John Kerry (27-year tenure).

So, yes, we’ve lost some seniority. But there are two other major reasons why the funding dollars aren’t flowing anymore:

1. The earmark ban has assured that no politician can easily pull in pork for his or her home district. (That hasn’t stopped them from trying, of course.)

2. In general, Congress is deadlocked. The 112th Congress was the least productive legislature since record keeping started in 1947, passing only 80 bills.

In other words: No one has any power anymore. Watch the full Fox segment below:

Correction: Tip O’Neill’s name was misspelled in the original version of this post; it’s been corrected.