All Politics Really Is Local and According to Glen Johnson “Awesome”

Don’t miss Boston Globe Politics Editor Glen Johnson’ s piece on the “Political Intelligence” page today. The Lowell references and the flurry of local town and city elections should pique our Merrimack Valley interest. Glen Johnson spent some years toiling at the Lowell SUN – so he knows only too well of which he speaks. His Paul Tsongas mention is a gem:

The late Paul Tsongas, who rose to US senator from Massachusetts and 1992 Democratic presidential contender, used to say, “Everything I needed to know in politics, I learned on the Lowell City Council.”

His descriptions of the four “genres of politicians pervading” the U.S. political system are especially worth your read:

1. The good guy: Every political body (except, perhaps, some of the former leaders of Bell, Calif.) has one or two super-earnest members who try to do the right thing. Sober and direct, you can trust what they say, which explains why they are repeatedly re-elected.

2. The bomb-thrower: Every political body (including, it seems, some of the former members of the Detroit City Council) has one or two members who delight in attracting attention to themselves with brash, unvarnished speech. The meeting room is the stage, local cable the medium. They are true characters and stand for something — anything — which explains why they are repeatedly re-elected.

3. The media suck-up: Every political body has one or two members who feel that the best way to achieve their goals is to court the reporters who cover them. They’re often willing to hand-off reports, suggest beers after a long meeting, or provide the inside dope on deadline — not that there’s anything wrong with most of those. They almost always have higher aspirations, which can be plainly apparent to voters, explaining why they are sometimes defeated.

4. The back-bencher: Every political body has one or two members who have no higher aspiration than their current office. They don’t make waves or try to draw attention to themselves. It’s not beyond them to go to Sunday Mass, shake hands on the way out, and then go back in — so they can attend Mass again and shake more hands on the way out. They are often re-elected, until some upstart calls them out or they make an age-related gaffe, when they get tossed.  (My bold)

Read Glen Johnson’s full article here at

Any locals who fit these profiles?