Democratic Massachusetts Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren took the stage alone at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel in Boston last night to deliver her acceptance speech after defeating incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown 53 to 47 percent. She resorted to many of the same divisive talking points that she's utilized throughout her campaign, riling up her supporters by feverishly clapping along to her own emphatic statements.
"For every family that has been chipped and squeezed and hammered, we're going to fight for a level playing field," she vowed. She spoke about a "system rigged," about holding the "big guys" accountable, about making sure that the "millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share," and she thanked her supporters for teaching "a scrappy first-time candidate how to get into the ring and win."
And then came a moment largely unprecedented, even in modern politics. "You took on the powerful Wall Street banks and special interests and you let them know you want a senator who will be out there fighting for the middle class all of the time," Warren thundered as her supporters let out their loudest and most forceful cheer. Last night, we witnessed a Harvard Law School professor defeat an Army National Guard Colonel in his own home state and then disparage him in her victory speech.
"And to the young people…" she began, but it doesn't really matter what she told them next. Her words and actions, as a candidate and as a careerist, have already sent a pretty clear message to those young people, about how to carry themselves as individuals and about how to get ahead in this life. She's probably right when she calls herself the intellectual godmother of my generation, because based on everything I've seen in my travels thus far, her message has not fallen on deaf young ears.
My Twitter feed, God bless it, quickly filled up with Warren supporters expressing happiness the only way they know how.
"Entire Scott Brown campaign: Elizabeth Warren is a professor (in Mass) and she's not Native American. Heckuva job, Brownie" tweeted Berkeley-based Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.
"Elizabeth Warren can never take Scott Brown's 'America's Sexiest Man (1982)', as determined by Cosmopolitan magazine, away from him," chimed in the official Twitter feed of New York-based Vanity Fair magazine.
"Scott Brown has that truck, so it's no sweat moving," quipped Los Angeles talk show host Bill Maher.
And note the order of things in this one, from TV actress Eliza Dushku: "Scott Brown is OUT!! #ElizabethWarren we love you!"
Scott Brown gave his concession speech at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel.
"You've got no business in politics unless you respect the judgment of people, and if you run for office you've got to be able to take it, either way, winning or losing," Brown said, surrounded on stage by dozens of friends and family. He told his supporters not to boo Elizabeth Warren, assuring them, in his first political lie, "She won it fair and square."
"I kept my promise to you… and I have never, ever, ever, regretted any decision I've ever made for you. You sent me to Washington to be my own man, and I am returning my own man."
He added: "I'm kind of psyched that you guys hung around."
Why wouldn't they? Most Massachusetts people aren't winners. They're Red Sox fans who spent 86 years waiting for a World Series victory and grew closer together every time a ground ball went through a first baseman's legs. They're religious people who tell their children it doesn't matter if they become the most successful, so long as they carry themselves with class and practice honesty and humility. They're literary people in tune with the comedy of life and the virtue of feeling bad. And when they hear the Washington pundits talk dismissively about the "Have a beer" factor in politics -- the idea that voters naturally scorn the pushiest activist candidates for the ones they'd rather have over to the house to drink too much and talk about what they've seen and what they've learned so far in this life- they say "Damn straight."
Scott Brown did the most Massachusetts thing of all: he acted like a stand-up guy and he lost his job for it.
He can take solace in that. And the people of Massachusetts can take some solace in Elizabeth Warren's victory: At least they won't have to see her around for another six years.