Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's At Stake

A lot of people don't realize how critical the special election for Senate in Massachusetts today is. Massachusetts Democrats have enjoyed two Democratic Senators representing their state since 1972, with a Kennedy in one of the seats since 1953. When Ted Kennedy passed away last summer, the state legislature, in a reversal from a recent law under Romney's governorship, gave Governor Patrick the ability to appoint a replacement for Kennedy, but only until the election today.

Now, more is at stake than anyone ever thought possible. The Democrats' agenda in Congress is threatened more by this election than by any single other event until the November elections this year (barring another tragedy or resignation). The President's mission of at least having health care passed in his first two years of office is on the line. Any other much needed reform will be destroyed or severely watered down from now until next January if the Republican, Scott Brown, wins. There will be no robust climate bill. There will be no meaningful financial regulations. There will likely be no substantial jobs bill. Senate Republicans, who in the past few years have become synonymous with obstruction, will be able to obstruct at their leisure, with no Democratic override.

Scott Brown is not a terribly adept politician, not a stellar candidate, and not a well-known figure in Massachusetts. But the combination of Democratic complacency, frustration with national politics, and an oddly timed election has pushed him into the front ahead of Attorney General Martha Coakley, who in some polls is now trailing by 10 percent. People from Massachusetts are misguidedly angry about the health care bill. They're angry at Coakley for reasons that they either don't understand or are just too inane to dignify (calling Curt Schilling a Yankee fan? This is the real world, not a game).

The state that elected Obama by a 26-point margin is now turning its back on him, perhaps because of their economic situation. Yet many independents, Republicans, and others voted for Obama over McCain because they didn't want the same failed economic policies to continue to prevail. Just because the economy isn't back and better than ever after one year of Obama's tenure, it's time to go the other way? Again? It's heartbreaking to see this kind of mentality--which we see across the country in nearly every election cycle--in the state of Massachusetts, where voters seem to be a bit more enlightened, patient, and thoughtful than in other states.

A Scott Brown victory will put a halt on all the policy reforms that this country has waited so desperately for for so long--and that Edward Kennedy fought so tirelessly for nearly 50 years--all because of the Liberal Lion's painfully untimely death.

Coakley may not have run a good campaign, but she's shown in her service to Massachusetts over the past decades that she will be a strong and principled Senator. And the state, the country, and yes, even the world, need her to pull off a win today.

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Images: Coakley and Brown (Talking Points Memo)

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