Another Perspective

The View From Jamaica Plain

Will Massachusetts ever be the same again?

By 1.20.10

When 2010 rang in residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could be certain of three things. The sun would rise in the east, there would be snow on the ground, and a Democrat would be elected to succeed Ted Kennedy in the Senate.

In retrospect one cannot blame the Democrats for believing the Special Senate election in Massachusetts was for "Ted Kennedy's seat." After all, when Edward Moore Kennedy was sworn into office Scott Brown was but a 3-year-old. One could make the case that Democrats looked upon Massachusetts voters as children to be seen but not heard. Well, last night Massachusetts voters were heard by an entire nation. Say hello to Senator-elect Scott Brown, R -- MA, and say goodbye to Obamacare (unless Harry Reid sees fit to ram it through before swearing Brown into office).

So how did this all happen over the course of less than a month? How was it that Scott Brown lawn signs were showing up in The People's Republic of Cambridge? When a colleague told me of this sight it was at that point I thought Brown could win. If Democrats can't hold onto Cantabrigians, then who can they count on?

Well, it's quite simple really. The more people saw of Scott Brown the more they liked him. The more the people saw of Martha Coakley the more they didn't like her. Throw in a lackluster performance by President Obama during a campaign stop for her over the weekend and you have a perfect storm where the winds of change have blown back in his face.

Brown began on a clever note when he reminded Massachusetts voters that President Kennedy was a tax cutter at heart. Of course, Brown is hardly the first Republican in favor of a tax cut. This tax cutter resonated with people because he wears regular clothes, drives an old pick up truck, and also genuinely enjoys talking with people as well as listening to them. People might not agree with Brown's position on the War in Afghanistan but he's a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve and there are some Massachusetts liberals who respect his stance. Brown also had a magic number -- 41. He turned this election into a referendum on Obamacare.

And then there was Martha. What didn't she do wrong? If Paul McCartney was advising Coakley he might say, "Martha my dear. Hold your hand out, you silly girl. See what you've done." Martha Coakley could write a book titled, "How Not to Win an Election Campaign." The table of contents might look something like this:

Introduction -- The Campaign Has Been Won, Time For a Well-Deserved Vacation

Chapter One -- Getting Those Taxes Up

Chapter Two -- How to Handle Pesky Reporters

Chapter Three -- How to Make Terrorists Disappear From Afghanistan

Chapter Four -- Employment Opportunities for Catholics Outside The Health Care Field

Chapter Five -- How to Convince People Your Opponent Likes Rape

Chapter Six -- Remedial Spelling

Chapter Seven -- How to Avoid Contact with Voters in Cold Weather

Chapter Eight -- Boston Sports Legends & Landmarks 101

Chapter Nine -- How to Apply for a Presidential Bailout

Chapter Ten -- I Have a Scheme: Politicizing Martin Luther King Day

Chapter Eleven -- How to Accuse Your Opponent of Voter Fraud Before the Polling Booths Have Opened

Epilogue -- It Wasn't My Fault: How to Blame Washington Before the Polls Have Closed

Coakley and her supporters seemed to go out of their way not to win friends and influence people. A couple of days ago about half a block from my apartment I was stopped by a Coakley volunteer who asked me if I was going to vote. When I informed her that I would be supporting Brown, she demanded to know why. I retorted, "Where would you like me to begin?" This woman had nothing positive to say about Coakley and instead spent most of her time equating Brown with George W. Bush. She even went as far as to say that Brown was supported by the birther movement. I told her that she would catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Yet this young woman's approach can hardly come as a surprise when John Kerry baselessly accuses Brown supporters of "bullying and threats" or when Keith Olbermann accuses Brown of being an "irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees." The whole Coakley campaign and their apologists in the left-wing media reeked of desperation.
Such desperation serves to embolden conservatives and independent thinkers while demoralizing honorable liberals.
My roommate is a Democrat who did not support Coakley during the primary but nonetheless voted for her on Tuesday. But there was no joy in his heart. Brown voters, on the other hand (me included), couldn't wait to get up in the morning and sprint to the polling booth.

It is significant that Brown was elected nearly a year to the day that President Obama took the oath of office to much celebration and fanfare. Over the past 365 days, that celebration and fanfare has waned. It isn't as easy as Obama thought it would be. Much of his agenda in infeasible and impractical, but if he has his way we will still pay for it. The election of Brown is a message for Obama to stop and hit the reset button. He would be wise to do so.

Will Massachusetts ever be the same? It is certainly a different day and a different year. Yet one can make the case that it is Ted Kennedy's seat in which Brown will now sit. After all, he is serving out the rest of what would have been the remainder of Kennedy's term. Brown must go before the voters again in November 2012. Democrats won't be caught off guard then. But Scott Brown made the Bay State sit up and take notice once. Who can say that the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts aren't prepared for an encore?

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.