>We are one year into the Barakalypse and it seems safe to say that the root causes of 1/19/2010 spring from the attitudes of 1/20/2009. Last night saw the victory of Republican Scott Brown in a special election for Senator from Massachusetts. This was certainly a defeat for Democrats and their agenda, but it can’t be characterized as a victory for Republicans. Rather, it is a sign of the anti-incumbency mood of the electorate and their revulsion with a Washington establishment that seems arrogant and out of touch – more interested in cutting backroom deals and attaining their partisan agenda than in solving the country’s problems. It is fair to say that if the only way you can enact your agenda is with a sixty-vote supermajority then your agenda probably shouldn’t be enacted. The fact that losing the 60th vote was such a blow for Democrats should be the clearest message to them from this election.
“Stopping health care”
Brown nationalized his election on health care and used this key issue to attract support from around the country and votes at home. As Democrats respond in dazed manners after running into this electoral brick wall all sorts of theories have been voiced, from having the House pass the Senate bill to ramming through some parts using the reconciliation process usually reserved for budge measures. The liberal media has certainly gotten on board with these ideas, calling for “courage” in editorial after editorial. This shouldn’t be taken seriously. Any such actions would be political suicide in the most public manner. Some of the more wily Democrats have already gone on the record calling for a halt in legislation until Brown is seated. If these signs are true, then perhaps a return to the center has begun.
Voters are no longer listening to Obama.
Obama stumped for Corzine and, to a lesser extent, Deeds in the November 2009 Gubernatorial races. Democrats lost both of those. He came out late for Coakley with some one-liners about Scott Brown’s truck and we saw how that turned out. Obama no longer has coat-tails. It’s not that people are actively against him yet – he still enjoys a reasonable personal approval rating – they just don’t care what he thinks. If Obama wants to save his presidency he needs to separate himself from his policies and what’s going on in congress. Naturally, this would lead to an internal civil war and Reid and Pelosi have leadership taken away from them. But are they even going to be around for the O’s second anniversary? Is Obama capable of trimming his ambitions of being the anti-Reagan who will lead the long-awaited and never-appearing swing back to big-government? I doubt it.
The future for Scott Brown
Amid all the excitement last night it was easy to predict great things for the senator elect. This is seems a bit premature. There are those who have started calling themselves “Scott Brown Republicans,” allegedly as a code for “reform republicans.” I think this is dangerous, we should have learned the dangers of putting our hopes for change in one untested vessel. Another suggestion was proffered during Brown’s victory speech: having him give the republican response to Obama’s upcoming state of the Union address. As the president had planned to make health care the theme of his address and Brown succeeded in nationalizing his campaign as a referendum on health care there is a certain symmetry to this idea, and Brown is certainly the blue-eyed boy of the moment. But the party needs to look forward – the response is an opportunity for a potential presidential candidate to make his case, and the party’s, to the nation. I just can’t see Brown in this position yet. Let him start as a talking head on one of the networks (I’m sure they’ll be fighting to book him) and let someone else with more stump-speech experience go up against Obama’s teleprompter.
With the 41st vote secured we can all breath a little easier and wait a little less for a doctor, but there’s still more work to be done for November and the party needs to position itself to ride the wave of discontent in the populace. People need ideas to vote for rather than just poll’s to vote against.