On the 100th anniversary of the publication of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," a discussion about why the poem and poet are well-loved but misunderstood.
Deval Patrick is the first to admit his rise to power was improbable. Massachusett’s first African-American governor escaped a difficult childhood on the south side of Chicago to an elite boarding school in New England. After Harvard law school, he traveled from relief work in Africa to the boardrooms of America’s largest companies. Despite a lifetime of success, Deval Patrick has struggled with political missteps, his wife’s public battle with depression, and a tough re-election campaign. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick talks with Diane on his unlikely path to politics and a friendship with Barack Obama.
- Deval Patrick governor of Massachusetts
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us, I'm Diane Rehm. Deval Patrick made history by becoming the first African-American in the United States to be re-elected as governor. In a new memoir titled, "A Reason To Believe," he traces his improbable rise from a broken home on Chicago's south side to the upper echelons of American politics. Today, he announces a new organization to educate Americans about the benefits of the new health care law. The democratic governor from Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, joins me in the studio.
MS. DIANE REHMWe do invite your calls, questions. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us your e-mail to email@example.com. Feel free to join us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Good morning to you, governor.
GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICKGood morning, Diane.
REHMIt's good to have you here.
PATRICKIt's wonderful to be back.
PATRICKNice to be with you.
REHMBefore we begin to talk about your own memoir, I'd be interested in your comments about President Obama's speech, did it go far enough? Did he respond to his critics strongly enough? Or is there room for improvement?
PATRICKWell, I didn't see the speech or hear, but I did read it yesterday in-between events. And I think it was a real leadership moment. I think what the President has done is elevate the conversation to what it is we are really debating which is, what kind of country we want to live in. I think that's what's underneath the debate around health care, around the question of the deficit and the debt. He has more patients than I do in many respects. You know, to be lectured to about deficits and the size of government by the folks who created the -- who ran up the deficit to historic levels in the previous administration and the size of government.
REHMOf course, they argue it was democratic spending that took us up to these rapid levels.
PATRICKWell, that -- you know, this is a matter of fact, not opinion. It was in -- it was during the Bush administration that spending went out as far as the eye can see because we ran two wars on a credit card. And we did an expensive drug benefit and didn't pay for it. And we cut taxes at the same time. And that's not a matter of opinion, that's a matter of fact. But we're all in this. And so I do have some sympathy for the folks and the President chief among them who says, enough already with how we got here. How are we going to go forward?
PATRICKAnd talking about the set of values around which we make those kinds of very difficult choices and leading around that is exactly, I think, where the President needs to be and where he was in his speech yesterday.
REHMTell me how health care reform author by Governor Mitt Romney has worked in Massachusetts?
REHMIt's been a rousing success on so many levels. Ninety-eight plus percent of our residents have health insurance today, 99.8 percent have children. There's no other state in America that can touch that. More people are getting their care in less expensive primary care, preventive settings and in an emergency room.
REHMWhat about the downside?
PATRICKThere -- you know, the only challenge we have faced is the challenge that's facing everybody whether you have a universal system or not. And that's the fact that premiums go up too fast, too often. And, I think, just as we -- because we've started some measures to try to deal with that and stop being defeated by the complexity of it. We will be just as the -- we were the model for national health care reform. I think we'll crack the code on cost containment.
PATRICKThere's some really exciting things happening in Massachusetts around this, right now. If you don't mind, Diane, I'd just love to tell you about a couple of them. The --first of all, last year or a year and a half ago, I took some steps through our insurance commissioner to use existing authority to cap excessive rate increases. This is not a permanent solution, it's not even a popular one but it was something I did because small businesses and working families needed some relief.
PATRICKAnd it got the attention of the insurance companies. It brought them and the providers back to the table. We started then to move on something called, payment reform, where we're going to look to pay for health insurance, not by the amount of health insurance or the quantity of it but the quality or outcome, a value of it. And there's a rising consensus among the whole industry and patient advocates, the business community and legislators as well.
PATRICKThat that's the direction we ought to go in and we can get some real savings.
REHMAnd moving on from health care to tax reform. The President wants to raise taxes on upper income earners as well as the corporate taxes. We heard in the last hour that that's going to hurt small business. How do you feel about that?
PATRICKWell, look, you know, nobody wants their taxes raised. No one runs for office to raise taxes. I've cut the corporate tax and raised the sales tax when I -- since I've been in office. I don't think there's any one solution. And, I think, that the cartoon characters that we make of each other in politics around this issue are not helpful. I think, that, you know, President Bush made a point when he was advocating for the tax cuts in the previous administration. He would always say, it's your money. And he's right, it is.
PATRICKBut he didn't finish the thought. Because, see, it's also your broken roads and your overcrowded schools and your broken neighborhood and your broken neighbor for that matter. And sooner or later we're all going to have to start taking responsibility for that. And, I think, frankly, that is what the President was getting at yesterday. The idea of simplifying the code and closing the loop holes and the exceptions and so forth so it is more transparent and accessible for normal people is important.
PATRICKThe idea that we all have a contribution to make for the services we say we want is also important. And the conversation we ought to be having, and again I think this is what the President -- is the leadership the President is showing is, what is it we want government to do and not do? And what is that actually cost and then what is the most responsible way to share in that -- in doing that?
REHMMassachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, his new memoir is title, "A Reason To Believe: Lessons From an Improbable Life." Before we get to that phrase and improbable life, why a memoir now?
PATRICKWell, it's a great question because the agent I've been working with is someone I met about 15 years ago.
REHMWho is that?
PATRICKA wonderful young man named Todd Schuster from a firm in New York and Boston. And he's been after me to write this book for 15 years. And I have been, in fact, writing it in bits and pieces and talking about some of these stories and speeches and essays and so forth over the years and tucking them away in drawers. It's really a, you know, I'm a very hopeful person. I'm an un-repented idealist. And I've come to understand that hopefulness and idealism are strengths.
PATRICKThey are real blessings. And the book is a gesture of gratitude to the many people, some of them known, some of them totally anonymous who have given me those gifts, the teachers who gave me a reason to hope and a brighter future, the family members and some strangers who gave me a reason to believe in the power of kindness, the voters for that matter who've given me a reason to believe in the politics of conviction.
REHMYou and your elder sister...
REHM...Rhonda, both raised by your mother, Mae Wintersmith in a two bedroom tenement owned by your maternal grandparents. Tell me about that life.
PATRICKWell, we lived -- we grew up on the south side of Chicago. Most of that time on welfare. My mother and sister and I shared a two bed tenement, as you said, with my grandparents and various cousins who came and went and an uncle from time to time. My mother and sister shared one of those bedrooms and a set of bunk beds, Diane. So we go from the top bunk to the bottom bunk to the floor, every third night on the floor. I went to big broken under resourced, overcrowded, sometimes violent public schools.
PATRICKBut I will say this, we had a community. In the '50s and the '60s, every child was under the jurisdiction of every single adult on the block.
PATRICKEverybody was there. So if you messed up down the street in...
PATRICK...front Ms. Jones, she'd straighten you out and then call home, right. So you get it two times. And, I think, what the adults were trying to get across to us was that they had a stake in us. That community is understanding the stake that each of us has. Not just in our own dreams and our own struggles, but in our neighbors as well. And there was a lesson in that too.
REHMI remember when you went to Milton Academy. How did you get there?
PATRICKI got to Milton in 1970 through a scholarship through a program called, "A Better Chance." Wonderful foundation that identifies minority kids or, as they used to say in the euphemism of the day, kids from non-traditional prep school backgrounds, for independent schools. And I showed up, I was admitted to Milton and...
REHMWhy were you at admitted?
PATRICKWell, I had three choices. Every student did in 8th grade in Chicago. You could go to the vocational school in your -- and they were scattered around the city. They taught things I now wish I knew, like, auto mechanics.
REHMExactly. Me, too.
PATRICKAnd tailoring and things like that. But they weren't college preparatory and although no one in my family had gone to college, I really wanted to go and my family encouraged that ambition. I was very interested in architecture at the time. I still want to be an architect one day. And there were two technical schools in the city, one on the north side and one on the south side. And they taught mechanical drawing and things like that that seemed like they would be right for that ambition.
PATRICKBut the better school was on the north side and at the time, they wouldn’t take any south side students. I think they've been sued over that since, that's changed. And that left the general high school in our school district which is actually, Diane, where we had our 8th grade classes. So I knew that environment well. And it was a great big building I describe in the book, no glass left in any of the windows because of the riots that had come through the south side in the summers before.
PATRICKSo we had either plywood or Plexiglas. Huge classrooms, a police officer at every intersection in the class and in the building. An 8th grade teacher -- 7th grade teacher introduced me to A, B, C and then things started to change.
REHMMassachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
REHMGovernor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts is here with me. If you've just joined us he has a brand new book out. It's titled "A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life." And it was, is, has been indeed an improbable life. There is a lovely story that you tell in the opening of the book. Would you read that for us, please?
PATRICKSure. "Once when I was 15, I had to catch a bus to meet a friend and I was running late. I lived on the south side of Chicago near the corner of 54th Street and Wabash Avenue. So I raced south down Wabash past the white-walled commercial bakery that always smelled of sour yeast, across the weed field median on Garfield Boulevard and east down a block past the liquor store, the Laundromat and the shop that sold live chickens to housewives. The shopkeeper could slaughter the bird or the women could do it themselves at home.
PATRICKI reached the bus stop just as the familiar green and white CTA bus pulled up, oily and wheezing. I climbed the steps, reached for my coins and only then realized that I did not have enough for the fare. The driver, a world weary Black man with a gray grizzle and salt and pepper mustache had already jerked the bus into gear and started down the street. He gave me a withering look and told me gruffly to sit down, pointing to a seat close to the door. I obeyed. I braced myself for a stern lecture on the futility of trying to pull a fast one and I assumed he would kick me off at the next stop. My mouth was suddenly dry, my stomach churning.
PATRICKEmbarrassed and stammering, I stood again and started to explain that I had been away. I was a sophomore at a boarding school in New England and did not know the fare had changed. He looked me over with the sure gaze of a man who had heard every excuse and was practiced in sizing up passengers. He turned his eyes back to the road, his expression abruptly softened. It's okay, he said, just pass it on, pass it on. I thanked him and sat back down heavily overwhelmed. Expecting humiliation I instead received a simple act of grace. And for whatever reason, perhaps just the kindness in the face of certain reprimand, that moment left a lasting impression. It was a reminder that I should do for others what he had done for me."
REHMMassachusetts Governor Deval Patrick reading from his book, "A Reason To Believe." I wanted you to read that because I found myself, as I began the book, wondering about the contrast between that Black bus driver and the white students at Milton who perhaps had a different attitude.
PATRICKWell, you know, I had -- I found relationships, many of them lifelong relationships and meaningful ones at Milton too. But it was quite a transition. You know, I arrived at Milton the night before classes began when I was 14 years old in 1970. I had never seen a place like it before. They had a -- I was by myself. I had -- they had a dress code in those days. The boys wore jackets and ties to classes. So when the clothing list arrived at home my grandparents splurged on a new jacket for me. But a jacket on the south side of Chicago is a windbreaker. So the first day of class when all the other boys were putting on their blue blazers and their tweed coats I had my windbreaker. So there, you know, that was...
REHMWho said what when you walked in with your windbreaker?
PATRICKWell, you know, you're standing there in the dorm dressing with the other 14-year-old boys and they've got their ties and their blazers and I had my tie from the Easter before and my new windbreaker. And it was clear that, you know, I was -- I hadn't quite cracked the code. But there were teachers and other adults at Milton who were open to me and reached out to me. There were kids I formed a bond with in time. It wasn't easy.
PATRICKI mean, one of the real challenges in that experience was the way in each environment -- you know, each environment made you feel like you had to reject the other as the price of admission. So it was impossible to describe Milton in ways at home that people would understand and appreciate. It was impossible and uncomfortable to describe the south side of Chicago to my friends in my new world at Milton.
PATRICKAnd what I came to understand over time, and I write about this in the book, is that though you feel at the time you must make that choice, it's a false choice. If you really want to live as a citizen of the whole world, as I did, than the question is, how do you find your own true north and keep that authenticity no matter what setting you are in. And I had some wonderful folks who helped me understand that. And, as I say, I write about that in the book.
REHMHow many other African-American students were there at Milton?
PATRICKNot many, Diane, not many.
PATRICKOh, gracious. I think there might've been -- it was a small class but in a class of maybe 200 boys there were, I don't know, maybe 15 Black students.
REHMAnd did you bond with them?
PATRICKI did. You know, we were not all from the same place or the same circumstances but it was a very tight group in many ways. In some ways I will say it was so tight it was hard to experience the rest of Milton. And I was determined to experience the rest of Milton, so there were tensions even there. So -- but we worked that out, you know, and kids do.
REHMWhere was your father in all of this?
PATRICKWell, my parents split, as I write in the book, when I was four years old. And I didn't know him very well when I was growing up. He's a jazz musician. He was one of the founding members of an avant-garde jazz group called Sun Ra. And he moved to New York when -- maybe in -- I'd say it was about 1960. I saw more of him when I came to Milton Academy because he was closer geographically. But he was very disapproving of Milton. He thought...
PATRICKOh, yes. He thought...
PATRICK...he thought Milton would, you know, leave me not Black enough, that it was denying my own experience as a Black kid. And he was very militant and very distrustful of the environment I was in. And I think -- you know, as I came to know him later, I think he was just worried I was going to let my guard down and be hurt. But we had a very tortured relationship for many of these years. We had a reconciliation in time.
REHMYou know, I think about many children of immigrants who come to this country. And I myself am one who lived in two worlds that way and whose parents are so distrustful of the other, that it can make life very difficult for the child.
PATRICKIt's a challenge.
REHMA challenge if the child wants to try to live...
REHM...in both worlds.
PATRICKRight, right. And I've seen this and experienced it, as I said. But, you know, I think that what I learned is that I could be the bridge. That I didn't have to choose one place or another. I had to decide who I was and be that all the time everywhere. And I think one of the reasons I came to that, Diane, which I try to get at in the book, is that I wanted to live and be a part of lots of communities. I wanted to -- I want to understand and be a citizen of the world. And that didn't start at Milton, by the way. That started back on the south side of Chicago.
PATRICKI had this extraordinary sixth grade teacher named Mrs. Cuentence (sp?) , 40 of us in the class. We were a mess. You know, our home lives were a mess, the neighborhood was a mess, the school in some ways was a mess, but she taught us to count and say the greetings in German. She took us to the first opera I'd ever seen. I was telling an audience this morning that I didn't know what they were singing about, I still don't know what they're singing about, but I loved it then and I love it now.
REHMYou love opera.
PATRICKShe took us to see a new movie that was out called "The Sound of Music" and she used it to teach us about the rise of the Nazis and the Second World War. She encouraged us to imagine ourselves as citizens of the whole world. And that was an incredible gift, that it was possible for us on the south side of Chicago to expand to any lengths we wanted to. And I tell you, that kind of idealism sounds corny in today's environment of constant no and negativism, but it is transformative. And one of the reasons I wrote the book is because I think it's within the power of any of us to pass on that kind of idealism to another.
REHMAnd certainly within the power of those elementary school teachers to create the prospect, the possibility of that dream out there...
REHM...for everyone. What would have happened if you had stayed on the south side of Chicago?
PATRICKWho knows, but I will tell you I -- sometimes I am -- I'm asked that question by people who presume that but for Milton Academy I would -- you know, I'd still be on the south side, you know, gangbanging or something like that. I just don't think that's so. I'm grateful to A Better Chance. I've dedicated a portion of the proceeds of this book to A Better Chance, which made it possible for me to go to Milton Academy. I love Milton. It was an important part of my experience. But those middle class aspirations and that willingness to dream big, that came before Milton.
REHMEverything came before Milton that had to do with family, that had to do with discipline, somehow, some way with the adults in your life. And that's what seems to me so sad today, that there are too few adults in young people's lives willing to say, look, you have choices. You can make these choices. You can do this, you can do this. There's a fair amount of putting down those dreams instead of lifting them up.
PATRICKI am -- I worry about that as a governor, as a citizen, as a parent. You know, the adults I recall and the ones I revere from my childhood and today are the ones who see their stake in all children who don't limit themselves to -- you know, the ones who do the small things in addition to the encouraging of that young person to dream big, sometimes it's just correcting them in a loving way. There's a story here...
PATRICK...that I write about that an old and dear friend of mine who's since passed away, a former law partner who became a federal judge, told about growing up in poverty in Birmingham, Ala. in the '50s and '60s. And he had an opportunity to go to Morehouse College. And he talks about -- he told me the story about going to Morehouse and they had this marvelous freshman dinner, very formal, that the president, the legendary Dr. Benjamin Mays and Mrs. Mays gave for the new students. And he said they were served T-bone steak.
PATRICKAnd he talked about how -- and I write in the book about how he was loving this steak, which he had rarely ever had. And then he got down to the bone and as he described it he picked it up and commenced to gnaw at it. And Mrs. Mays, who was a Victorian -- an upright Victorian force in her own right, was sitting by him, he described, and she simply slid her plate across to him and said, take mine, son. And he was astute enough to know she was trying to teach him something without humiliating him just to get -- you know, so sometimes when...
PATRICK...you say to the -- you know, I meet young people in schools. I try to visit a school once a week. Sometimes when I go into the -- into a junior high or a high school and the kids are cocky and feeling their oats, some of them will say, hey, Deval, you know. And I appreciate that they feel familiar enough.
PATRICKBut I say to them, it's Governor Patrick. And it's not a putdown. It is because someone needs to teach them some of those basic -- pull up your pants. Pull up your pants, tuck in your shirt. I know this is old-fashioned stuff but some of these basic lessons passed on in a loving way and with grace help.
REHMMassachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. His new memoir is titled "A Reason to Believe." And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You experienced a certain racial intolerance in Massachusetts. You decided not to return to Chicago. What happened when you got to Massachusetts?
PATRICKYou mean when I...
REHMAnother kind of sort of thinking that goes on in one state as opposed to another.
PATRICKWell, this is -- you know, this is -- Massachusetts is different today but in the days when I got there in the early '70s, Boston in particular was struggling with the bussing question. And there was a lot of hostility and a lot of -- and some violence associated with that. And while the -- while Milton Academy itself was its own kind of cocoon, if you will, not immune but isolated to some extent from all that, we were right on the edge of Boston. And go in and every once in a while someone would shout a name or what have you.
PATRICKAnd I can remember one time going on a burger run late night with one of the housemasters to collect Big Macs from the local McDonald's in Dorchester across the city line, to bring them back to the dorm. And there was a really ugly scene in the parking lot with a bunch of kids who were shouting racial epithets. And one or two tried to toss their cigarette butts into my big afro at the time, banging on the plate glass windows of the McDonald's while we were collecting the food. And it was a scary thing. It was as upsetting in some ways for the faculty member as it was for me because he had no capacity to explain it, to comfort me -- or, you know, he -- it was as embarrassing for him as well.
PATRICKNow Massachusetts is not the same place today. But we struggled then with issues of race, and in this country we have struggled with issues of race. And we still struggle in the sense that we don't quite know how to both acknowledge the incredible progress we've made, much of it in my lifetime, and also the challenges that are in front of us. It's like you've got to choose either, you know, the issue is gone or the issue is unchanged. Well, it's crazy to say that the issue's unchanged, you know. I mean, I'm governor of the commonwealth, for goodness sake. But it's also wrong to say that we are done. Civil rights, in particular, as one friend once described it, is a relay race for justice. And every generation must do what they can to advance the baton and then hand it on to the next generation.
REHMIs -- are the Birthers acting out of racial intolerance?
PATRICKI don't -- they seem to be acting out of insanity. I mean, I don't -- I hate to sound disrespectful of anyone but, for goodness sake, the man's mother is a U.S. citizen, was a U.S. citizen. He was born in this country, he has a U.S. passport. You gotta prove that you're a citizen in order to get the passport. Let's move on.
REHMMassachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. His new book "A Reason to Believe."
REHMAnd we're back with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick who has a brand new memoir out. It's titled, "A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life." Here's an e-mail -- no, actually, this was posted on the DR show website. It says, "Given the education you had at Milton, and independent schools, do you support vouchers so that more Massachusetts families can choose the right school for their children, including independent schools?"
PATRICKIt's a great question. I support choice, but I draw the line at vouchers because I think it's a -- it's a hollow offering. There's no voucher that's going to pay the tuition at Milton Academy. And, you know what, we have to -- what we have to acknowledge is that most kids are going to get their education in the traditional district schools. And the question is how do we get them to sing? We did a bill last year -- our kids -- I will say that, in the coming on five years I've been in office, we have funded public education at the highest level in the history of the commonwealth, even when the bottom was falling out of the rest of the state budget.
PATRICKWe did that because I believe, from my own experience and as a policy maker, that there is no better form of long-term investment in our collective future. And we have doubled the charter cap. We have also created many, many more ways to have flexibility in the traditional schools -- we call them innovation schools -- so that we can try the kinds of things that meet kids where they are. Our students have performed at the top of the nation in student achievement in each of the last five years but we have also had, for many, many years, a persistent achievement gap. And the kids who are stuck in that gap are poor or speak English as a second language or have special needs.
PATRICKAnd, you know, it's an educational-economical issue to have an achievement gap at all, but to let it go as long as it has gone in Massachusetts -- almost two decades now it's -- that's a moral question. Now, we have some tools to be able to reach that part of our commonwealth-wide family.
REHMAll right, let's open the phones to Brighton, Mass.
REHMGood morning, Divy, you're on the air.
DIVYHey, good morning, governor.
DIVYHere's my question. You know, in an age of such horrible, negative campaigning and with two really negative campaigns against you, you ran two positive campaigns and won. What on earth were you thinking?
PATRICKWell, Divy, I was thinking -- I was thinking I should be myself no matter what. You know, that I should run willing to lose because, number one, I think that -- I think people read a fraud every time. They know when you're making it up. Secondly, I'm not a -- I'm not a negative person by nature. I think you need to know what we're for not just what we're against. And I, for one, am tired of all the negativity. I think that helps explain why there's so little participation in our -- in our politics and in our civic life. And, I think, if we want people to come back in we've got to give them something to feel positive about. And we are a positive nation by character.
PATRICKIt's had a whole lot to do with the kinds of things we've been able to accomplish in the commonwealth and in the country as a whole, so I'm just trying to reflect that back.
REHMLet's take a call here in D.C. Good morning, Eric, you're on the air.
PATRICKGood morning, Eric.
ERICHi, Diane, hi, governor, thanks so much for taking my call.
ERICAnd, governor, two quick questions and if you might comment on them I'd appreciate that. You, yourself, governor, the President and the mayor of Newark, New Jersey are distinct as far as African American leadership is concerned. You are a totally new breed, very forceful and you don't have the pedigree of the civil rights movement to distinguish yourselves. You just happen to be national leaders who are black. And I would like to the governor to comment on this. Is it a trend? Is it something that we think is going to happen and its influence on it?
ERICThen the second part of my question, governor, is a few years ago during the campaign the President was accused of plagiarism and I was watching -- I was watching you with great anticipation hoping you would come out and very forcefully dispense of the idea that he had borrowed the words from you without your permission. Thanks. I will now take my response off the phone.
PATRICKThanks you, Eric. Well, first of all, in terms of the question whether we are a new breed of black leaders, I don't know. I mean I've spent -- I spent -- started my career as a lawyer -- as a civil rights lawyer -- at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. I was the head of the civil rights division in the Clinton Administration. And I can tell you that both Mayor Booker and President Obama understand that we have the positions we have because we're standing on the shoulders of people who did that -- or the work -- over a generation or more.
PATRICKI think on the question of the so-called plagiarism, it still makes me smile because I remember sitting with then Senator Obama the summer before the election really heated up. He was in it but it was the summer before the year of voting, so that would have been what, 2007. And, you know, I've -- I don't pretend to be an expert in politics. I've only run two times. But I said, Mr. President, I have three pieces of advice for you -- not Mr. President, excuse me, Senator. I have three pieces of advice for you. And one of them was to prepare for the folks who would say to him, as they did to me when I was running, that it was just words. It was all about the rhetoric and not about the substance.
PATRICKAnd I said, you know, what, don't yield on that point. Come back -- and here's what I said, and you should use it and they did just that. And he used what I offered him when -- in response -- and I was proud he did.
REHMAnd that's exactly what Congressman Paul Ryan is saying today. He says we have to stop rewarding politicians who make empty promises to the voters. We don't need a campaigner in chief right now. What do you say to Paul Ryan?
PATRICKYou know, you can imagine -- you can imagine Paul Ryan at the time of the Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths self-evident that all men are created equal. I supposed Paul Ryan would say well, that's just empty rhetoric. That's not -- that doesn't actually set out a vision of what it is we are trying to accomplish here. What the President understands is that the budget is not a math problem. It's about people. It's about the choices we make about the kind of country we want to live in. And that is exactly where the debate ought to be.
REHMBut you know...
PATRICKBecause that has real implications for policy and that is the level at which, I think, we, as citizens, can engage.
REHMYou know, it is the corporations have taken on that same mantra, however, that we are responsible to our shareholders. They're the ones who are important rather than the integrity of the product we're putting out there.
PATRICKWell, I think, in the case of -- in the case of government, we are above all responsible to our – to the people, but not just at election time, meaning, not just to appeal to them for their support, but to help them help themselves. This is the difference, I think, one difference between the modern Republican Party, at least as I've experienced it, and at the national level, and what democrats believe. We don't believe that government is about solving every problem in everybody's life, but it is about helping people help themselves. And I think that the modern national democratic, excuse me, Republican Party seems to be about the notion that everyone's on their own and good luck.
REHMHere's an e-mail from Terry in Davenport, Iowa, who says, "As a retired school counselor out here in Iowa, your ideas on positive encouragement of young people seems so valuable and on the money. What do you recommend that a white man in my situation do to help counter racism and other factors adverse to the advancement of young people of all color?"
PATRICKWow. Well, Terry, first of all, I think that, as someone who has been in education, again, I can't think of any more high impact profession than what happens when a highly motivated, well supported teacher is in front of those children loving them, because -- and raising their expectations of themselves. That's the kind of education I got from the teachers I write about in this -- in this book and, I think, that has absolutely nothing to do with race. I got that from black teachers and white teachers and young teachers and old teachers. I didn't get it in every single class, but I got it in a lot of classes.
PATRICKAnd I will say -- this is a field of the question. I've kept up with those teachers. You know, my third grade teacher was present when I was inaugurated. My sixth grade teacher, who has since passed away, was present when I was -- when I graduated from college and law school, when I was married, when I was sworn in to the Justice Department position I had. I've kept up with the eighth grade teacher who introduced me to -- to a better chance. And that ninth grade teacher at Milton Academy, who had such an impact on me in so many ways, is somebody I think about every single day.
REHMYou and your wife, Diane...
REHM...were married in 1984.
REHMWould you read for us from page 187 starting with reading the page...
PATRICKSure. Let me set it up, Diane. My wife, Diane, is an extraordinary woman, a lawyer and a partner in a law firm in Boston. We've been married for over 25 years now. I should have calculated. I'm sorry, Diane, I should have calculated that before I started out. We have two grown-up daughters, who are as remarkable as their mother. She is incredibly effective, publicly, but she is a very private person by nature. And so I want to read about what the impact of the early days in office was like for her.
PATRICK"Reading the paper, she told me one day, makes me nervous and weak. It feels like kryptonite. 'Then stop reading the newspaper,' I said. 'Do you think Superman seeks out kryptonite?' I thought it was that simple. I had been consumed with the campaign and then with the immediate demands of my new job. I knew that expectations were high, that I would be held to a different standard and I was eager to serve with class, thoughtfulness and professionalism. So I was busy pouring over resumes to find outstanding appointees for the cabinet and trying to understand the intricacies of the state budget."
PATRICK"I was conscientious about serving the people of Massachusetts, but I did not serve the most important person in my life. I didn't realize how badly Diane was hurting. When our official photograph was taken as governor and first lady of Massachusetts she wore a radiant red jacket, but could barely muster a smile. She felt that she had lost control over her life and was spiraling into depression."
REHMAnd then what happened?
PATRICKWell, we had a -- she had an episode where she was really in such a panic, Diane, she couldn't even think about getting out of bed. And we were in touch with a therapist she had seen some years before. And the therapist admitted her to the hospital. And there was a really scary period where she, I think, as people do when they are seriously depressed, wonder whether they were -- will ever feel better again. With some great counseling and a lot of love and some great help at the -- at the hospital she turned the corner pretty quickly. But we had some really heart-to-heart conversations about whether this life that I had thrust us into was worth it.
REHMDid you think about resigning?
PATRICKI did. We talked about it directly. You know, sometimes she would say I want you to leave this job. I don't want to do this anymore. And then I'd say, well, let's – let's talk about that when you feel better. And then there were other days when, you know -- this is all over the span of about two or three weeks or less -- and I'd say if this is what it takes for you to feel better that's what I will do. And she would say, no, let's think about it later and so on. I think we are both – I know we are both delighted, first and foremost, that she is great and feels betters and is back to work and is herself and has understood now how to put -- how to do as much of the first lady stuff as she wants to and not any more.
PATRICKShe has talked about this, publicly, and it has saved thousands of lives. You would just be amazed at the incredible messages of encouragement and prayers and gratitude that she gets from people all over the commonwealth. And it was she, you know, we had to have the conversation or have a conversation when it was time for re-election, you know, do you want to do this again. And it was she who said finish what you started. And we ran and the rest, as they say, is history.
REHMMassachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I think we have time for one last call in Cincinnati, Ohio, good morning, Sam.
SAMI wanted to comment about medical costs in the U.S. It's a little off topic, but, I think, my comment is important. And I want to say that I'm from India and I feel like we are over training doctors in the U.S. The time it takes to train a doctor in the U.S. is very long. Hello?
PATRICKAre you a medical student, Sam, by any chance?
SAMNo, I'm working in my PhD in engineering, but I know ten percent of doctors in the U.S. are from India. And in India, they start early -- they start in high school.
SAMYou can choose medical field or an engineering field.
SAMYou can either drop the biology classes or the math classes.
SAMAnd then it takes five years to earn your BBS, which is Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery.
SAMAnd that reduces the time and you can train a lot more people faster.
REHMWhat do you think?
PATRICKI don't know if I have an opinion about that. You know, I know that in India, as in other places, the time for choosing your future career is imposed on young people sooner than it is here. And we allow young people to -- through our educational system -- to think about those choices for longer periods of time and keep their options open. We're also the most innovative nation on Earth. So, I think, that's probably connected to those choices, as well. So I'm not sure I have an opinion, Sam. I know we've got to get the cost of healthcare down. And we are working hard on that in Massachusetts and making some great progress, which, I think, can model -- we can model for the rest of the country.
REHMFinally, an awful lot of people want to know, as does John in Winston-Salem, N.C., are there any future circumstances under which Governor Deval Patrick could see himself running for president?
PATRICKOh, gracious. I see our time is up. I'm going to finish this term, Diane, and go back into private life and I'll look forward to that. And if there's something -- some way in which I can contribute and feel I have something to contribute in the future, then that'll be in the future.
REHMThe book is titled, "A Reason to Believe." Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. What a pleasure to see you again.
PATRICKIt was wonderful to see you. Thank you so much for having me.
REHMThank you. And thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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