One year ago today among soaring public opinion polls and global accolades, the Barack Obama was preparing for his inauguration and the beginning of what would be one of the most radical presidencies in modern memory. A year later, he’s been dealt a nearly fatal political blow.
The Democratic loss of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, a seat controlled by that family for nearly 60 years in heart of dark-blue Massachusetts (note the spelling), cannot be understated. Especially in light of earlier losses in Virginia and the Democratic strong-hold of New Jersey, Scott Brown’s clear victory emphasizes the shifting mood of American politics.
One of the over-riding themes in the election concerned health-care. Scott Brown was clearly opposed to the federal reform bills, while his opponent clearly supported the bills in Congress. Considering that Massachusetts already has a state-level universal health care coverage system, the results of the election are particularly interesting in that light. The Massachusetts model has often been pointed to as an example for federal reform. The people placed under its “care” however, seem not to care for it. For a nice touch of irony, keep in mind that Ted Kennedy made health care reform the primary goal of his career. The successor to the Liberal Lion will now be the vote that effectively kills ObamaCare in the Senate. That is, of course, unless the Democrats decide to go nuclear. In my humble opinion, that would be political suicide. As the people have just demonstrated that they don’t want this, it would seem unwise to attempt to ram it down our throats, especially in an election year. Brown will also likely cause problems for such things as Cap and Tax and other high priority items on Obama’s domestic agenda.
Also consider that Obama carried the state by 26 points in 2008. Tonight, his agenda as personified by Martha Coakley was soundly rejected by the people of Massachusetts. This reveals an electorate that began to shift to the right in November and is now moving full-steam into the arms of the conservative movement, even in the most liberal state in the country.
In short, this election is of monumental importance both for practical politics and for deep, philosophical discussions about the direction of American politics. November should be fun.