A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Politics Not As Usual---Brown Defeats Coakley in Massachusetts

The word just came from across the big pond  that Republican Scott Brown pulled out a totally unexpected "stunner of a victory" for the Senate seat that was vacated by the late Ted Kennedy. Democrat Martha Coakley who was expected to walk away easily with a win in the traditionally "blue State" lost by a margin (as of this writing) of  seven points.  The large margin surprised even the pundits. Perhaps it was Patrick Kennedy going all out to support her and calling her "Marsha" over and over...he had obviously been watching re-runs of "The Brady Bunch."  Perhaps it was the fact that Coakley had not marshalled her forces early enough since Brown was a dark horse anyway and she was considered a "shoo-in". Perhaps it was that Brown just had that aquiline Kennedy-esque good look. Perhaps it was that the down-home blue collar image of Brown played well in an economy that is hitting the working class with great force. But perhaps the pitch that got the batter to walk was when Coakley said that Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan. (This would be Schilling, the pitcher for the champion Boston Red Sox.) The people of Massachusetts can forgive most things, but they won't forgive someone impugning their beloved Red Sox. Never.

For whatever reason , the greatest surprise comes from the fact that Brown bounced from a thirty point deficit and then won by a good-sized margin in a State that has been bluer than the creatures on "Avatar" for decades.

What exactly does this victory mean? Interestingly enough, a lot of Democrats that were polled said that it was their way to send a message to Washington that they were not happy with the health care bill. Others said that it was cap and trade and the unchecked spending and bank bailouts.Then there are the independents voters. This was a huge group of Obama supporters who voted Republican this time around. They were the wild card vote. With disffected Democrats and hacked-off Independents, it was not going to be a good day for Coakley. It wasn't so much that the constituency of Massachusetts was enamored of the handsome, truck-driving, former Cosmo pin-up Brown. It was just that they had fallen out of love with what was going on in Washington and they found a way to send the message back to the politicos...and they did it loudly and clearly: "Enough is enough." The Democrats point the finger at Coakley but honestly, she did not stand a chance. She was standing on the landfill that is made up of bank bailouts, a sinking economy and a health care bill that is as cryptic as ancient hieroglyphics. It was not a pleasant place for a Democrat to be staking a claim. Not even a last minute impassioned speech by the President himself was much of a help.

If the Democrats want to keep the boat afloat in the 2010 election, they will have to harness and manage the great wave of populism that is crashing on the shore of this country. Intellectualism and elitism and the government overspending  isn't playing in Arkansas where a single mom can't get a job at the local Dairy Queen.  (Hell, it's apparently not even playing in the intellectual, liberal and elite blue state of Massachusetts.)

The truth of the matter is that this vote...is not a rejection of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party...it's a rejection of both parties. In  a strange way, change is coming to Washington, but not in a way that Obama or the Democrats ever thought possible.

Will Obama execute a course correction as Clinton did in the 1990's when the Republicans came back in and shook up Washington?  He will have to if he wants to go forward with his dreams of change for America. It's still early on in the game and I want to give this brilliant and thoughtful man the benefit of the doubt.

But the tea got dumped in the harbour tonight. There was no whooping, no face paint, no drama. It was done quietly ...but it still sounded like a muffled roar.

And if you are wondering who the Republicans are going to run for the "big seat" one day...you've just seen him win in Massachusetts.  You heard it here first. 

(By the way, Martha Coakley gave one of the most gracious concession speeches I have ever heard.)