This is me, this morning:
It’s election day in Massachusetts and turnout is apparently pretty heavy, despite less-than-ideal weather. A few weeks ago, a heavy turnout was considered a very bad thing for Republican Scott Brown, but that is no longer true. Brown is ahead in almost every poll, by as much as 10%. I’m sticking with my pessimistic prediction from yesterday but that’s mainly for the same reason I won’t say the words “no-hitter” when a pitcher has reached the ninth inning without allowing a hit. It’s bad mojo, and nothing good can come of predicting a Brown victory.
And now I’m reading some conservatives who maintain that a Brown victory would be a bad thing. The thinking goes that if Brown wins and the Republicans manage to kill health care reform, a crucial campaign issue for November will have been frittered away. This will cut into Republican gains in the House and Senate this November and may even prevent a Republican majority from taking over (at least in the House).
There’s a major flaw in this line of thought: it’s idiotic.
Okay, I’ll elaborate. For starters, this is the same mindset that caused many conservatives to believe that an Obama victory in 2008 would be a blessing in disguise because it would force the Republicans to spend some time in the wilderness and get their act together. That may have been true in the sense that the Republican party seems to be leaning more in a conservative (think “tea party”) direction than where they were when they were the majority. But at what cost?
McCain may not have been my first choice for President, or even my 20th choice, but he likely wouldn’t be running car companies, tripling the national debt, and shoving bogus health care reform down our throats. The Obama victory in 2008 forced the Republicans to get their act together (somewhat…they’re still largely the stupid party), but the nation itself is paying an exorbitant price in the diminution of the free market, the gross engorgement of government, higher taxes, etc. What was good for the party was very bad for the nation and when it comes right down to it, I don’t give a blankety-blank about your political party. It’s America I pledge allegiance to, not a political party.
Similarly, a victory for Martha Coakley is a victory for the Democrats and Obama. It may give the Republicans a great campaign issue in November and it may increase the number of GOPers who get elected at that time, but while that may be great news for the RNC and for die-hard party hacks it’s terrible news for the nation as a whole. If the health care bill passes, it will be virtually impossible to roll back. Obama will veto any changes, and a Democratic minority will filibuster any changes once Obama is out of office. That’s a steep price to pay for a few more Republican fannies in the seats of Congress.
There are also some conservatives who are pushing for ideological purity. Scott Brown is pro-choice, and probably a little more liberal on social issues than they would like. I can understand this viewpoint a little bit better, but it’s letting the perfect get in the way of the good. From a cobalt blue state like Massachusetts I’m happy to get someone who will vote conservative most of the time. There is no such thing as total ideological purity on any sort of practical level. Expecting it is the conservative equivalent of trying to immanentize the eschaton. Politicians need to make deals and sometimes compromise. Deal with it. As long as he doesn’t sacrifice genuine core principals (like, say, pro-life Ben Nelson voting for the health care bill in exchange for a kickback to Nebraska), then I’m more than willing to give Senator Scott Brown a bit of wiggle room (just a bit, mind you). From what I know of Brown, he’s not quite as conservative as I would like in an ideal world, but it’s not an ideal world…it’s Massachusetts, one of the most Left-wing states this side of Moscow. The idea of the Bay State electing someone who is to the right of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry is simply astounding.
Some worry that a Brown victory will somehow force the Republicans to negotiate with the Democrats, changing the health care bill for the better but lacking the steam to turn it into a truly good bill. This is nonsense. A victory for Brown will not force the Republicans to negotiate on the terms set by Democrats, but rather the opposite. The Republicans now will be the ones to say that the bill must have tort reform, interstate buying of insurance, and health savings accounts. Anything less will be greeted with the stone door of the filibuster. It is forcing Democrats to reach across the aisle, not Republicans.
Those Republicans and conservatives who fret that a Brown victory in January is a Republican letdown in November need to seriously ask themselves whether they are concerned with the Republican Party, or the Republic of America. The enemy is at the door now; letting him in to ransack the house because you think you’ll have an easier time catching him after he’s done is not a good idea.
There really isn’t much I can say that hasn’t been said by more knowledgeable, wiser folk than me, but I’d be derelict in my duty of fighting The Clampdown if I remained completely mum on the subject of this fascinating Senate race in Massachusetts.
In November, Republican Chris Christie beat Democrat Jon Corzine in the Governor’s race in New Jersey, a shock that sent shivers down the spine of the Democratic party. New Jersey is a heavily “blue” state, so a Republican victory in the age of Obama was a stunning upset. Compared to Massachusetts, New Jersey is as red as a fire engine, though so it was considered a given that Democrat Martha Coakley would cakewalk into the empty Senate seat left by the death of Ted Kennedy. For the Democrats, this was a no-brainer. Coakley was popular, well-known, a Democrat, well-funded, and running for the seat previously occupied by the Liberal Lion Kennedy in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3-to-1. And only a couple of months ago, Coakley was up over her opponent by 30 points in the polls.Well, as John Lennon said, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. While the Democrats were readying the coronation of Coakley, and Coakley herself was spending the campaign laying on a feather bed while being fed grapes by manservants and having the DNC fan her with huge palm fronds, Scott Brown was running for office. Polls now have Brown with a slight lead, and the election is tomorrow.
Proving that they learned absolutely nothing from Corzine’s defeat, the Democrats are now blaming Coakley for running a bad campaign, just as they blamed Creigh Deeds, the Democrat loser in the Virginia gubernatorial race.
It is true that Coakley has not run a good campaign. Insufferable arrogance and a sense of entitlement will do that to a politician (e.g., George H.W. Bush in 1992). But Scott Brown has run a great campaign and, unlike New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Brown has been crystal-clear where he stands on the issues. Most importantly, he has made no bones over the fact that he will vote to kill the health care reform bill in Congress. This has been so blatant that the Massachusetts race has turned into a referendum on the health care bill. And surprise, surprise, surprise…the candidate opposed to the bill is now poised to win the race under the most daunting of circumstances.
Win or lose the election, the Republicans have won this battle. If the race can be this close in Massachusetts, the blue dog Democrats in D.C. are rightfully shaking in their shoes over their re-election prospects. As for me, I’m still inclined to think that Coakley pulls it out. The odds against a Brown victory are overwhelming. But I will be watching and cheering Brown on and will happily eat my words here on Wednesday morning. But the fact of the matter is that if Coakley wins by less than 10%, the victory goes to the Republicans. If Brown wins by 10 votes, the Democrats are, barring a miracle, dead in 2010.