21 July 2011 ~ 121 Comments

Not your typical politician

I’ll give it to Scott Brown: he looks like a Senator. But while some in our Party scramble to find the “heavyweight” to take on Brown next year, I think we have our candidate — Bob Massie. He doesn’t have your typical political pedigree and his background might be outside-the-box, but in this race I think we need a little more Tester or Wellstone than Hillary or Kerry. We’re not going to out-politician Scott Brown. We’re going to make the case that we need a different kind of leader — a bold progressive with a survivor instinct that will take on Washington in a way that no one else can.

Blue Mass Group has a must-read piece on Bob today, laying out the background and perspective Bob would bring:

He was born to author parents in 1956 with hemophilia, which caused pain and hindered his movement; he says that from a young age, it gave him a sense of empathy with the vulnerable. Bob went to Princeton, where he was heavily involved in South Africa divestment movement. He went on to Yale Divinity School and became an Episcopal priest. He later did doctorate work at Harvard Business School, while a minister at Christ Episcopal Church in Somerville. His work @ HBS was concerned with the intersection of business and ethics; since then he co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative, an organization which produces a framework for measuring corporate social resposibility — “a bald attempt to alter the way the global economy worked”, he says. To that end, he ran Ceres for years, and last year he became an advisor to Domini Social Impact Fund. He was an election observer for Nelson Mandela’s election in South Africa, and wrote an award-winning 800-page history of US-South Africa relations vis-a-vis the anti-apartheid movement.


In the 90′s, he was tested as HIV positive …. but miraculously, possessed a natural resistance to the virus. In 2002 he contracted a debilitating case of Hepatitis C, which took him out of commission for years. He’s now completely recovered, thanks to a liver transplant.

Is this a normal career arc for a politician? No. Bob Massie neither looks, sounds, nor acts like someone who is mostly concerned with ambition and power. He doesn’t speak in sound bites. He has never been an elected official; his public service has been in activism, the church, writing, and working with the private sector on social responsibility.

Massie believes in setting a bold goal, and reverse-engineering a sequence of practical steps to achieve it; and we have to not lose hope that the big goals are “important, worthy and inspiring.” He is interested in not simply the hot-button issue of the moment, but in underlying causes. He has a sense of historical arc that is rare among politicians, because he’s lived it and studied it, and in the case of South Africa, he’s seen and experienced a smashing victory for human rights, after long struggle.

But what’s even more interesting is how this background would contrast with Brown in a head-to-head match-up. I’ve met Bob and I look forward to the day that he can question Brown on stage and challenge him, point by point, on Brown’s votes and flawed vision — if he has one at all — for our country.

Bob’s in this race to win. He’s building a large grassroots following and his fundraising has picked up — June was his best month yet. You can learn more about Bob and get involved at www.bobmassie.org

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m currently an adviser to the Bob Massie for U.S. Senate campaign.

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