As a former resident of, and still eligible voter in, the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I feel compelled to comment on yesterday’s special election to fill out the unexpired term of the late and great Ted Kennedy. As the entire universe now knows, Martha Coakley, the State Attorney General and Democratic candidate, lost to Scott Brown, a state legislator and the Republican candidate. This will have consequences, such as reducing the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate from 60 to 59. There are also numerous press reports and blog posts about how this is the death of health care, of Obama’s program, and of democracy as we know it. The circular firing squads are lining up even as I write.

So, two things. First, what happened? Simple. Democrats didn’t show up. Brown got about the same number of votes as John McCain did, but Coakley only got about 60% of the votes that Obama got. There was no massive swing to the Republicans. It’s just that the Democrats didn’t bother.

Second, why? Well, for one thing, Coakley ran what is perhaps the worst political campaign in modern memory, with the possible exception of Rudy Guiliani’s presidential campaign of 2008. Actually, both were premised on the same campaign philosophy–don’t actually go out and campaign. Make the voters come to you. I could never stand Coakley, frankly, not after the Louise Woodward case on which she made her name. And I’m not alone, in fact. So the fact that she blew a 31 point poll lead I find strangely comforting–it cofirms my intuitions that she’s a showboater of little brain. She won the primary against a couple of good candidates, particularly Congressman Mike Capuano (who would have clobbered Brown, I think) by running as the woman candidate. So this is the result of letting disgruntled Hilary supporters pick your nominee. And of picking a nominee who, astonishingly, doesn’t seem to know very much about the Red Sox.

So now what? Well, there’s lots of discussion about Plan B on healthcare, which, as Roy Edroso points out, seems a bit odd since “they barely had a Plan A”. More importantly, there’s lots of anguished wailing about how the Democrats lost because they weren’t conservative enough, or not liberal enough. Well, actually it was Coakley that lost, but still. I incline towards the latter. Those 800,000 people who voted for Obama and didn’t vote for Coakley–they didn’t vote Republican. They just didn’t feel like voting for Coakley, and for a fair number of them, maybe it was because it’s not clear at this point that the Democrats will actually fight for anything that voters think is worth fighting for–mainly jobs. I think Obama, if he’s to do anything, should recognize that people are just really, really worried. The sooner he starts addressing that, the better off the Democrats will be. And he really, really needs to have a good talk with Rahm Emmanuel. This 60 vote majority thing is just crap. Bush was able to get a whole lot of godawful legislation passed with a bare majority of Congress. The Democrats should be able to get some half-decent legislation passed with what is still an even larger majority.

The stamp above has nothing to do with yesterday’s election, but it is set in Massachusetts, and it’s a really attractive stamp–issued in 1975 as part of a whole series of stamps to celebrate the bicentennial.

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6 replies »

  1. Greetings,

    I too am a Mass expat, or as my redneck NH fellow citizens would say, a Masshole. I am a proud, bleeding heart liberal, atheist and gun owner.

    I think that the public is bullshit at the Dems for being pathetic suckups to the ruling elites.
    Ever since 2006 when the voters gave them control of congress, they have betrayed us. They gave Busholini more than he even asked for and covered up his crimes.
    I for one have had it.

    For me, the big issues are: stop war and empire, single payer health care now, and holy shit, stop bailing out banksters and insurance companies. This is the most outrageous insult to the public that I have ever seen at 60 years old. Oh, and let’s have a real investigation of 9/11.

    I am glad the Dems took one on the chin. Let’s hope they do not turn the other cheek. So sad.

    Shepherds are for sheep,

  2. As a native of the commonwealth who covered Massachusetts politics when the late, lamented Silvio Conte was a powerhouse in the state, I agree wholeheartedly with wuf’s assessment.

    Bad candidate. Dems assumed a win. Therefore, bad result. As John Stewart pointed out last week, the Dems still have an 18-vote majority in the Senate, the largest for any party since 1923. And they whine NOW that they can’t get anything done? Puhleez …

    Thanks for the piece, wuf.

  3. I don’t think this means the Dems are not liberal enough. I think we will see moderate Democrats feeling like they have more breathing room and will start speaking up. ie Jim Webb, Claire McCaskil (sp).

  4. I’m not sure it has anything to do with being liberal (as if the Democratic Party knew anything about that without the crass prefix “neo-” tacked on the front end). It has a lot to do with selling out citizens for corporate interests. It has even more to do with being rotten, hypocrites. Add those two to the absolute lack of spine and willingness to actually do something and we’re left with a bunch of people who can find something better to do than pull the lever for yet another Democrat.

    Maybe that’s to be commended. It’s not like they voted Republican, but i’ll bet that most who stayed home (or turned in a blank ballot or wrote in Huey Long) said something to the effect of, “Well at least with the Republican I know I’ll be screwed and won’t be pissed off and disappointed when I am.”

    What would be really interesting if some on the other side of the yawning political chasm in America figured out that the people they vote for are just as bad and in almost exactly the same way. Put both groups together and we might actually see some change…might see some pitchforks, tar and feathers too.

  5. It”s true. Coakley just totally sucked the bag as a candidate, straight up. She dragged her feet, and let The Naked Teabagger, Scott Brown, get out in front of her in TV ads and visibility. She ended up on defense, and she was just unprepared as all get out for what she was in for. If she had gotten out of the gate faster after the primaries and defined herself better, she may have actually won, and she should have, loathsome as she is, and she is rather loathsome. She’s no Naked Teabagger. That’s for sure.