One of the biggest political upsets in history occurred this week-Massachusetts elected a Republican to fill a Senate seat that for 58 years was held by America’s first royal family, the Kennedy’s. Even the Kennedy’s hometown of Hyannis Port went for Republican Scott Brown, who, on New Year’s day was an obscure Massachusetts State Senator from Wrentham, a working-class town southeast of Boston.
Brown’s upset over Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley, who ran a disastrous campaign that exuded a sense of hubris and entitlement that has contributed to the unraveling of Obama’s agenda, came after Drudge Report blew a seeming formality of an election into a referendum on the current way Washington is working. Once again, the much-derided Fox News was number one in the ratings for election night coverage.
The take-home lesson from the upset in Massachusetts is that a grassroots campaign of economic Conservatism wins elections. Brown ran an economically focused campaign that focused on voter concerns of out-of-control spending, backdoor deals for a healthcare overhaul whose support polling is abysmal, and a general atmosphere of rigid and uncompromising ideology that seems to drive the administration. GOP operatives would do well to dissect the Brown campaign and implement its strategy in races across the country. Perhaps most shocking was Brown’s candidness about being the 41st vote against healthcare legislation in a state whose former Senator viewed health reform as the cause of his life.
Despite Brown’s vocal opposition to health care, which, contrary to soaring campaign rhetoric that espoused transparency, has entailed much more backroom deal-making than a Chicago mayoral campaign, liberal commentators saw the surprise outcome in Massachusetts as an affirmation of support for Obama’s agenda, rather than a repudiation of overreaching by a Congress and White House that grossly misinterpreted the meaning of their victory in 2008. In fact, Obama himself told ABC’s George Stephanopolous that what swept him into office is the same thing that swept Brown into office; not a dissatisfaction with the Democrats’ arm-twisting way of governance, but a dissatisfaction among Massachusetts voters with-you guessed it, George W. Bush. Apparently Massachusetts forgot that Martha Coakley spent two months running a campaign effort that tied Brown to “Bush-Cheney Republicans.”
Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich spent Tuesday predicting dire results in November for the Democratic party if leaders took the election as an impetus to redouble efforts to ram a hyper-partisan agenda through Congress instead of viewing it as a call to move toward the center. So far, it appears congressional leaders will not triangulate as a means to move forward on health care in a bipartisan fashion, but continue to ignore the writing on the wall by presenting a renewed sense of populist fever that, in the form of excessive regulation, will only continue the downward economic spiral we are in .