Why the Dems Lost Massachusetts, And What it DOESN'T Mean
The results of last night's special election for the late Ted Kennedy's senate seat should come as no surprise to anybody who keeps an eye on politics.
Mr. Kennedy must've seen the writing on the wall prior to his death when he attempted to change the law regarding his succession. In the end, Kennedy was unsuccessful, and what the people of Massachusetts got was a lackluster campaign from Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, who suffered from many false assumptions. Her campaign failed to realize that the people of Massachusetts hadn't been voting for a Democratic senator for the last 47 years, they were voting for "the liberal lion," a man who stood firm on his views and claimed to be a liberal even when Reagan declared it a four-letter word. Say what you will about the man's personal choices, but based on her campaign, Martha Coakley was not fit to fill Ted Kennedy's shoes.
So what does the election mean? Firstly, this wasn't a referendum on the health care bill. Massachusetts already has universal health care implemented by then-Governor Mitt Romney in 2006. At best, it's about having to pay twice for the same service. But the real issue is that the people of Massachusetts wanted a real candidate to represent them, not some seat warmer waiting for the "real election" in 2012.
Secondly, the Democrats should be thankful for this special election, considering that it shows them what they'll be up against in November. A victory would have been nice for them, but they should consider this loss an investment in the future. Democrats up for re-election shouldn't assume anything, and they should also actually get some work done while Congress is in session. Who would've thought that passing meaningful legislation can go a long way towards getting a person re-elected?
Ultimately, the Democrats were defeated by their own hubris and lack of foresight. Since November 2008, they've been primarily concerned with gaining, then protecting, a filibuster-proof majority. In doing so, they alienated many of their progressive supporters and didn't deliver on campaign promises made in 2006 and 2008. In trying to court the centrist vote in upcoming elections, they made compromises that satisfied nobody. The Democrats would be wise to mobilize the progressive base that elected them by enacting meaningful legislation; otherwise, last night's election is just a taste of what's to come.