The next Mayor of Boston may be an addict in recovery. Martin Walsh disclosed many years ago that he is in recovery from alcoholism and that he has participated in AA programs to support his recovery.
People in recovery are usually a silent, behind the scenes element in any community. The Anonymous part of the groups’ title makes it inappropriate to publicize or discuss openly members and activities. However, for those involved in this community it is powerful, supportive and very interactive, just what a candidate needs from a political campaign to succeed. One of Boston’s most successful politicians who held the Mayoral office for many years and was even re-elected to one post while in jail was James Michael Curley. Curley was well known for distributing jobs and Thanksgiving turkeys to constituents so that everyone either received a direct favor from him or knew someone who did.
Marty Walsh is apparently similarly well known for helping people attain and maintain sobriety, an even greater gift than a job or Thanksgiving dinner. “I don’t really care who knows I’m an alcoholic because if it helps somebody else knowing that I’m an alcoholic, then they’ll ask me for help if they need it,” Walsh said in an interview.
To understand the potential scope of the AA community, consider the number of groups available in just Boston alone. Each week there are 117 AA meeting held in the city. The neighboring towns that comprise the rest of the voting districts for Boston’s mayor account for another 159. Consider that each attendee also has family members and friends with whom they connect and you can account for a huge number of potential voters.
One of AA’s core principals forbids any organized formal involvement in politics so as to prevent any diversion from the primary mission of helping addicts recover.
And this is not meant to imply that all AA attendees will automatically vote for Marty Walsh but so far it appears that the AA“group conscience” may finally be extending out to the official voting booth.