Thursday, June 20, 2002
The People's Republic of Cambridge

A member of the lovely and talented ensemble (Tapsters?) published as Tapped in this piece closes its defense of how it can be liberal and still like David Gergen sometimes with, "As for Gergen, maybe Cambridge, Mass. is getting to him. It sure got to us!"

It got to me, too! I lived there, oh, nine or so years from 1982 until sometime in 1991. My favorite recollected highlight of Cambridge politics is a local candidate telling me, in the lobby of the rent-controlled apartment building I lived in, how one of the goals of the election coalition he belonged to was to "expand the rent-control constituency."

That is, they were in favor of expanding legalized graft in a form which exchanges subsidies from landlords to tenants in the form of below-market-value rents for votes! What a brilliant system for entrenching one group -- the pro-rent-control ensemble -- into power. Not that it wasn't done on a national level with transfer payments from the federal government to the poor since the New Deal into the Reagan years in a way that kept the Dems in power for years.

I know times have changed since I left there. I'm not sure they even have rent control any more in Cambridge. The rent control board was so loose with letting landlords raise rents, they may have well not have at times while I lived there. (Ya gotta understand that the rent on the 1 BR 1 BA apartment in question in 1987 was $235. Yow!!) Cambridge was due both for a return to more market-driven economics as well as an end to the domination of the neighborhoods by old-guard doctrinaire leftist remnants of the Vietnam War era.

Now if I had only scanned that photo of that mural of The People opposing the Federal Government's building I-95 or some branch thereof on the back of what used to be Stop and Shop in Cambridgeport to link to. Maybe someday soon.

Anyway, Cambridge taught me everything I needed to know about why doctrinaire post-Vietnam leftism wasn't good policy or good politics. From seeing Chomsky and his toadies in action at MIT to the locally-used rank-ordered voting scheme, just about everything about Cambridge politics at the time was wrong for this one.