Danielle Allen – a personal endorsement

by Henry Farrell on April 19, 2021

Danielle Allen phot

I imagine that many Crooked Timber readers are familiar with Danielle Allen – her book, Our Declaration, was the subject of a Crooked Timber seminar a few years ago. However, some people may not know that she is in the early stages of running for governor of Massachusetts. She is an extraordinary person, and would do extraordinary things if she were elected. I’m writing this both to endorse her (in a purely personal capacity – this is not a general CT endorsement, although I know that some other posters also know her and think she’s wonderful) and to suggest that if you agree and are in a position to, you should donate to her campaign.

The reason that I support her isn’t that she’s one of the finest academic political theorists of our age (she is; but that is beside the point). It’s that she is uniquely capable of bridging between a deeper understanding and the ordinary business of politics. I can’t think of anyone who even comes near to her ability to weave the two together to good purpose. She’s also someone who identifies problems and gets things done. And she has the kind of charisma that stems from deep moral seriousness combined with kindness and a real delight in other people.

The question is getting her to the place where voters can see who she is. This is a tough race – for starters, Democratic politics in Massachusetts is dominated by a well-oiled party machine. But it is far from impossible for her. A lot depends, as everywhere else in American politics, on money. Endorsements and political support depend on whether she can demonstrate that she has enough financial support from enough people. It helps that Massachusetts has donation limits that are lower than in many other states, making it harder for big donors to swamp the process. It also helps that her fundraising got off to a strong start, but a strong start isn’t enough on its own.

That’s why I’m asking that you donate, if you are a US citizen or a permanent resident, and are in a position to support her. If you want to find out about her campaign, you can get more information here. And if you want to find out more about how she helped shape the response to coronavirus, more details are here. There aren’t many people who have what it takes to potentially transform politics, if they get the chance. I believe she’s one of them.



oldster 04.19.21 at 7:20 pm

Could you retitle this “Danielle Allen for Governor,” or something?

When I saw her bare name and photo, I had a sickening feeling that I was about to read her obituary. The good really do seem to have a habit of dying young (witness my longevity), and it would have been a blow to learn that she was no longer with us.

Otherwise — thanks for the note! I will chip in some money to her campaign.


Bob 04.19.21 at 8:20 pm

I had exactly the same reaction as oldster when I saw the headline: my heart sank.


LFC 04.19.21 at 10:14 pm

This endorsement would have been stronger if it had provided some details to illustrate/support its statements. Based on what I know about Prof. Allen, what Henry says about her being an extraordinary person who would be a great governor is very likely true, but again, the endorsement would have been stronger if it had provided some supporting evidence rather than just directing readers to follow the links. As it is, the post amounts to Henry saying that he knows her personally, thinks she’s great and uniquely gifted at bridging theory and practice, and asking readers to trust his judgment. To be sure, that’s one way of endorsing someone for public office; whether it’s the most effective way is, in my opinion, debatable.


JimV 04.19.21 at 11:42 pm

For me, a recommendation from someone I trust is among the best possible reasons for supporting a candidate. So I have donated.


Gareth Wilson 04.20.21 at 8:17 am

I was about to gripe that this would be her first elected office, but the same is true for the last three governors of Massachusetts, so never mind.


jwl 04.21.21 at 1:47 pm

Running for office is a very difficult thing, and I commend Danielle Allen for seeking public office and her previous and current efforts to improve our country. The Covid response in Massachusetts hasn’t been very good, and we have the third-highest death rate in the US per capita. She’s done great work on Covid and as a scholar. I’m all for getting rid of Charlie Baker as soon as possible, especially after he intervened in the Maine Senate race. I’d like to see more before I decide on my vote on what her plans are for Massachusetts and how she thinks she can effect change in Massachusetts against the Democratic machine and the upper-class people who nod in the vague direction of social justice but aren’t interested in zoning reform or paying more taxes ever, for anything. I’m not convinced that winning tenure battles at Harvard will translate well to governing Massachusetts. The last three governors (Baker, Patrick, Romney) had no political experience before becoming governor and it showed. Jane Swift was treated horribly by the political machine. It’s good to have someone running who isn’t affiliated with Bain Capital or Harvard-Pilgrim healthcare. I’d like to know more about both her plans and how she plans to get them implemented.

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