Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Victory Is Sweet in Massachusetts; But, the GOP Must Be Careful Not To Overplay Scott Brown Victory (UPDATED)

Tonight, we have seen what I think is a sea-change in America politics, the first glimpse of which we got in the governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey a few months ago, which is a direct repudiation of the Obama plan to socialize not just healthcare, but the entire country. It's a lovely message to dear Mr. President that we do not like the direction that he, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, have dragged the country, kicking and screaming, completely ignoring the will of the majority of the people who elected them. The Brown victory in Massachusetts will send shockwaves through the Democratic establishment, and they are already scurrying like the rats they are to doggedly foist a healthcare bill that almost no one wants upon the American people.

The good -- heck, the GREAT -- news is that, with the victory of Scott Brown, the new Senator from Massachusetts, who will be sitting in Ted Kennedy's old seat (the "People's Seat," thank you Senator Brown), it's a clear message not only to Obama/Pelosi/Reid, but a whole lot of Democrats in iffy districts (think Melissa Bean) that we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more (!).

But, at the risk of throwing water on this whole party only a few scant hours after Brown's opponent conceded, there is a danger here, and the bad news is that some in the GOP will take the wrong message from the Brown victory, which is the misguided notion that Brown represents a nationwide lurch to the hard-core right, and the Brown victory is a mandate for right-wingers to come out and lead us all to a revolution against Obama's radical left.

While it's a nice fantasy, it's simply not true.

Months ago, the tea partiers were the ones calling Scott Brown a RINO ("Republican In Name Only"). Hungry for a victory, they then came into Massachusetts and adopted Brown, despite his rather thin credentials as a conservative, once they realized that he could be the tipping point on healthcare.

There is no doubt that conservatives helped Brown to victory, and they deserve credit. But, certainly not all of it, and Brown's victory is not a message that every hard-right conservative that is now running for office has a national mandate for victory.

If that is the message that the GOP, especially in Illinois, takes from the Brown victory, guaranteed our giddy celebration of victory over the Dems will be VERY short-lived. That's not what they did in Massachusetts, and that's what we need to avoid doing in Illinois.

Brown's victory was, first and foremost, a direct rejection of Obama's attempt to nationalize healthcare, because the main issue was that Scott would be the "41st" vote that would enable Republicans to maintain a filibuster in the Senate. In other words, this was basically the first chance that the American people (at least as represented by our friends in Massachusetts) got a chance to essentially vote directly on Obama's heathcare plan, rather than having to let the Democrats steer the ship off the bring whether or not the majority of Americans seemed to agree with the direction that Captain Obama wanted to take us.

If you doubt it, here's the man himself:

Brown: "Tonight the INDEPENDENT voice of Massachsetts has spoken... This seat belongs to no one political party. This is the people's seat."

It was not an endorsement of ultra-conservative values, and certainly not a show of support for the "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude that many ultra-conservatives seem to espouse. Let's just remember the words of Scott Brown, as quoted by the Cape Cod Times:

"I would not have been overwhelmingly re-elected if I didn't know how to work across party lines. If the Democrats have a good idea, I'd be happy to vote with them."

The lesson here is that when the GOP espouses principles that most of us can agree on, like smaller government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, etc., and we open the "big tent" to all those who may be attracted to a Republican candidate (especially so-called independents, but even some Dems, as the Mass. election showed), we fare much better politically, and have the ability to affect great change in this nation.

But if you can't get elected, you can't do anything, except gripe about how things in this country are so terrible, and "if only" we could get good Republicans elected, we'd turn this country around.

Well, as many people (even conservatives) seem to be realizing, you can't take an ultra-conservative candidate and win in a left-leaning state, like Illinois. "We must simply go with the most conservative candidate offered, that remains electorally competitive," as one conservative blog put it. Clearly, the more conservative the electorate, the more conservative a candidate can be and still have a reasonable chance of winning. Again, "electorally competitive" is the key phrase here.

Our choice for U.S. Senate is Congressman Mark Kirk, who is the only Republican with statewide appeal that can give us the hope to get as fulfilling a victory in Illinois come November 2010, as they did in Massachusetts tonight.

It's starting to be a great a time to be a Republican again. I truly hope we don't blow it.

UPDATED 1/20/10 6:45 a.m.: Now that the dust is just starting to settle and we can see how the media and the public are reacting to the Brown win, we'll see if I'm right on how this thing will go in Illinois. Carol Marin of the Sun-Times seems to agree with me that Mark Kirk is the moderate who can appeal to the independent voters that the GOP needs to win back from camp Obama.

Also, it's interesting to see how the Dems will spin this. They sure don't agree that the GOP brand is what carried the day for Brown:

"People made the race about health care, about Ted Kennedy," said Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "I think folks also want to know, what are you going to do for jobs? The contrast wasn't made, it seems."

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., pointed out to reporters Monday that GOP Washington establishment leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner were largely quarantined from Brown's campaign, indication that the GOP brand in Massachusetts and nationwide is still in doubt. Yet Democrats say Coakley didn't effectively exploit this fact.

"Scott Brown did not run as a Republican. The Republican label was not used in Browns' paid media or messaging," Rudominer said. "Brown did not have Republican surrogates campaign for him. Brown event kept former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney off the campaign trail."

Campers, winning back INDEPENDENTS, not solidifying the far right-wing of the GOP, is the ball that we have to keep our eye on, if we want to turn Illinois into the next Massachusetts in November.

Hey, one of the Dem trolls ought to drop by Ellen's house and check on her. I'd be a bit concerned about her after the Mass. drubbing last night.

Then again, she hated the health care bill, too (although clearly for different reason), so maybe she's not as devastated as you might think.


Anonymous said...

GREAT post, TA. And I agree with everything you're saying about being careful not to see Scott Brown's victory as a wide open shift back to the center all over the nation. I think what this very charismatic, down to earth new Senator said during his victory speech was spot on: each Senate Seat is, should forever be the PEOPLE'S SEAT and not a seat belonging to any particular party.
In an bright BLUE State, the Independent voters made the difference. Change and Hope are and were just words. People in MA and nation-wide are simply not going to buy into Chicago-style politics on the Potomac. The back door, closed door deals so linked to Chicago truly scared the you know what out of the voters in MA. We have a great chance to come together as Republicans and Independents and YES, some of our Democrat friends here in IL and get behind Mark Kirk and send him to the upper house, the Senate, in November. Can we please just forget the extremes in our party, know that our best hope, our nation's best hope for REAL Hope and Change will come from Mark Kirk's electon to the Senate. It's going to take all of us. Can we get together and pull out yet another miracle next November? You BET we can.

Anonymous said...

Scott Brown and Mark Kirk are both reservists, fiscal conservatives, social moderates and national security hawks.

The GOP has found a way to win in blue states.

Anonymous said...


When are you going to post the Sun Times endorsements? I need some humor at work this morning as certain bloggers will post something to the effect of "not a game changer"...or "doesn't mean anything", etc. Interesting to note that the unofficial honorable mention went to Arie...

Team America said...

Ask and ye shall receive!

Anonymous said...


Fabulous post - spot on - hope the likes of Ray True, Don Castella and Jack Roeser take note.

Team America said...

Thanks much, but don't hold your breath...