A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named. Then, He Was An Embarrassment.
In November 2015, the former president of the Massachusetts Bay Conference, Michael Sullivan, decided to convene a meeting of all Republican state legislators and state department heads to develop a plan to “address our common challenges with respect to a declining and declining state and the rapidly aging population.”
The meeting at the State House was to bring together all the Republican state legislators and department heads across Massachusetts as part of a joint task force to develop common policy initiatives. The focus is on ensuring the state is ready to face new challenges brought on by the demographic changes in American society without having to change its values, as Sullivan explained to the New Hampshire Union Leader in a video from that meeting.
The idea was good—except that the man named as the person charged with leading the task force, Michael Barrett, didn’t have any policy experience, much less any government experience. He was the executive director of Massachusetts Forward, a policy advocacy group whose stated goal is “to build political power to shape the commonwealth’s future,” and a longtime activist for progressive causes from outside the state’s political establishment.
The only thing Sullivan needed to know to assemble a meeting like this was that the state population has been aging. At the time of the meeting, Sullivan projected the population of the state would pass the 50% mark before 2050. The population was currently 36.3% of the state’s population, and the demographics show that in the next few decades, as it ages, Massachusetts will be only half the size it was in 1940.
A group of legislators quickly formed the Massachusetts Health Alliance, a new political group with a variety of health policy focuses.
A month later, a man named Michael Barrett was tapped to serve in the role of chairman of the task force.
Barrett had come to Massachusetts from the Republican Governors Association and the American Conservative Union,