Massachusetts Isn’t The End Of The World

Wednesday, 20 January 2010, 10:01 | Category : Healthcare, Politics
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We awoke this morning to discover that Massachusetts had elected Republican Scott Brown to the Senate seat held since 1953 by a Democrat, primarily either John or Edward Kennedy (Benjamin Smith held the seat by appointment from 1960 until 1962, pending Teddy’s election). The right wing is trumpeting the news as a resounding victory for conservatives, which it is, while some on the left would have you think civilization is beginning to collapse. What it is, is political hubris. The Democrats confused winning the party nomination with winning the general election, and apparently thought they could run a cardboard cutout and still hold the seat easily. Scott Brown realized he could run, not as a Republican, but simply as someone who would vote against the Democratic health care plan, which has become a boondoggle of enormous proportions, and who would claim to be fed up with runaway spending. He tapped into a growing discomfort about, not the deficit, for we saw under the Bush administration that deficits don’t really bother people that much, but rather overly visible and seemingly under-considered spending. I don’t think the huge dollars thrown at the various stimulus programs irked people as much as the discovery that financial companies were still handing out huge bonuses to people who most of us thought were lucky to still have a job. And when the banks paid back some money early, the Obama administration turned around and handed it back out. Many of us down here in the middle thought maybe that should have been used to reduce the deficit, even if only slightly. Appearances matter.

So now, the Democrats are faced with having only 59 seats in the Senate. Health care reform as envisaged only a few weeks ago is probably dead. And that is most likely a good thing. I’m certainly not opposed to health care reform (clicking on the Healthcare category to the right will tell you that), but what came out of the Senate isn’t reform. Starting over, as painful as that sounds, and as politically damaging to Obama as it might be, is in the long run the better thing. And seriously, folks, if the Democrats can’t accomplish something good with 59 Senate seats, then they don’t deserve to be in charge anyway. We on the left have complained about all the things Republicans rammed through during their time in charge the past decade, and they had at most 55 seats. It has looked to me over the past year that at times the Democrats have been almost afraid the be Democrats now that they had the controls. Maybe we’ll have to make some deals to break threatened filibusters. Maybe we’ll have to – gasp – compromise. Just do it. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.