The Democratic Party: Do They Not Understand What’s Happening?

January 22, 2010

In November of last year, many Democrats downplayed the gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Ever the optimist, Nancy Pelosi even pointed to the Democratic victory in NY-23 as proof that the night of November 3rd was really a triumph for the Democrats instead of a rejection of Obama’s policies. Conventional wisdom among the DNC, reinforced by most polls at the time, supported the idea that Ted Kennedy’s seat would be safely held in the liberal hands  of Martha Coakley. But they were wrong then…and they’re wrong now.

As hesitant as they may be to listen to their sworn enemies at Fox News like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, the Democratic party would do well to pay attention to the advice they have to offer: watch out because the Obama agenda is not popular right now. But yet, the liberal Democrats say he’s not liberal enough. Some moderate and conservative Democrats seem to understand what’s going on, but some still think they can pass a reduced health care bill, essentially a “Diet ObamaCare,” (less fat, but it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth) in order to appease the public.

Remember how Chris Matthews gushed over Obama, talking about a thrill running up his leg whenever he heard him talk? But now, observe this discussion between Chris Matthews & Howard Dean.

In case you’re wondering, I’m loving every minute of this.

And on top of it all, the Democrats want to raise the ceiling on the national debt by $1.8 trillion. When Clinton lost both Houses of Congress in 1994, he moved towards the center and passed wellfare reform and balanced the budget. It appears that the times have changed.

So what’s going on with the Democratic party these days? Have they lost their minds? I understand that the Scott Brown victory has left many of them hysterical, but I can’t say I expected them to react with such lunacy.

My theory is that the euphoria surrounding the Obama victory in 2008 left them starry-eyed and full of unfounded optimism. Finally, they had put forth a formidable candidate that had prevailed after eight long years of George W. Bush. Never mind the fact that John McCain was the absolute worst candidate for the Republican party since Bob Dole. The honeymoon could only last so long.

With a supermajority in Congress and a Democratic president, there should have been no problem passing through some of the legislation that they had always dreamed of, including universal healthcare, the holy grail of the Democratic party. But between the stimulus, the omnibus, the bailouts, cap and trade, and a bloated, expensive healthcare bill, Americans had had enough.

Of course, in spite of recent victories, the GOP still faces an uphill battle considering that they are 9 seats away from breaking even with the Democrats in the Senate, not to mention an even larger deficit in the House. Fortunately, most polls support what those recent victories have already indicated: a wave of conservativism sweeping the country. Harry Reid has been consistently behind his potential GOP challengers. Pat Toomey is currently leading Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania by as much as 9 points. Barbara Boxer is facing a possibly significant challenge in California. Blunt is ahead of Carnahan in Missouri. The GOP candidate for Senate also leads in Ohio and North Dakota. But if Brown’s victory in Massachusetts has taught us anything, polls can change.

However, the fact remains: there’s trouble brewing for the DNC. The possibility of losing the House and Senate looms in their future. All this talk of a Democratic party in decline brings to mind a few buzzwords of the 2008 election: Hope and Change.

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Analysis of the Scott Brown Victory in MA

January 20, 2010

Could anyone have ever dreamed of a more unusual scenario? The seat held by Ted Kennedy for over 40 years has now been replaced by a Republican in Massachusetts.

The Stage was Set

Let’s rewind to 1994. In the midst of a surge sweeping across the nation against the Democratic majority after a Clinton victory in 1992, in Massachusetts, a man named Mitt Romney dared to challenge the lion of the Senate himself: Ted Kennedy. But while Romney managed to lose by the second smallest margin in Kennedy’s nine elections, the score was a 17-point difference: 58 to 41.

By 2004, Romney was governor of Massachusetts. In an effort to avoid a Romney-chosen senator should Senator John Kerry win the White House, the Democratic majority of the Massachusetts state senate passed legislation that would keep the governor from being able to appoint a U.S. Senator until a special election was held.

But in 2009, with a Democratic governor in place, the Democrats reversed the legislation to allow a Democrat to be appointed to replace Ted Kennedy after he died. Before his death, Kennedy had even requested the reversal himself. After Kennedy’s death, Paul Kirk was appointed to replace him. The seat remained in the hands of the Democratic party.

On November 3rd of that year, GOP candidates Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie won the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, respectively. Both states had Democratic governors.

That same month in Massachusetts, Democratic candidate Martha Coakley led Republican Scott Brown by as much as 31 points. The Kennedy family endorsed Coakley to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat. At that point, it appeared obvious that the seat will continue to be in Democratic control.  After all, in Massachusetts, Democrats outnumber Republicans by as much as 3 to 1. But independents outnumber Democrats in the Bay State. And the hypocrisy of the Democratic party had worn down the respect of their constituents.

The Meteoric Rise of Scott Brown

Through a series of gaffes by Coakley herself, Scott Brown began to rise. Coakley’s numbers started to drop. Whether it was the pointless sparring with Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling or the arrogant and elitist opposition to schmoozing with hockey fans at Fenway Park, Coakley couldn’t seem to keep her mouth shut. If that wasn’t bad enough, her claim that terrorists no longer reside in Afghanistan certainly didn’t buy her any foreign policy points.

But in spite of Coakley’s best efforts to sink her own campaign, it still seemed unlikely that a Republican would be the one to replace Ted Kennedy. However, in early January, a Rasmussen poll revealed that Coakley’s lead narrowed to a single digit margin, albeit a 9 point margin.

In a debate with Coakley, Brown was asked how he could sit in Ted Kennedy’s seat and vote against the healthcare legislation that Kennedy had fought so hard for in his career. Brown responded, “With all due respect, it is not Ted Kennedy’s seat. It is not the Democrats’ seat. It is the people’s seat.”

For some reason, the wind was suddenly at Brown’s back. Perhaps even to the surprise of some Republicans, Brown was gaining momentum. Rasmussen’s next poll had him losing by only 2 points. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll had him up by 1. Coakley’s lead was vanishing before her very eyes. In the latter polls of the campaign, it was fully erased, replaced by as much as a 15 point margin of victory for Brown according to PJM/CrossTarget.

On the night of January 19th, Coakley delivered her concession speech. Brown had won 52 to 47.

Is Brown the New Face of the GOP?

Perhaps it’s a bit early to say that Brown is the face for the GOP brand. Typically, Republicans require dues to be paid before its leaders are rewarded with a  higher status. It took Ronald Reagan several years to become a major voice in the party, having lost to Ford in 1976 before winning the nomination in 1980. But if there’s one politician whose own meteoric rise could provide Brown a pathway for an early entry into the presidential fray, it would be none other than Barack Obama.

Obama was  still a state senator in Illinois back in 2004 when he delivered the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. He was elected as a U.S. Senator later that year. By February 2007, he had declared himself a candidate for the White House.

Brown was also a state senator when he won his U.S. Senate seat. While it may seem the least bit unlikely, Brown could very well be among the names floated for the 2012 GOP nomination.

But even if Brown did find himself amidst the field of candidates in the GOP primary, he would probably not win the support of many social conservatives. While Brown remains to the right of most Democrats on abortion, he is still essentially pro-choice. This would prove to be a rather difficult hurdle to overcome should Brown have loftier aspirations.

An Unusual Victory, A Glimmer of Hope

To say that Brown’s victory is historic would be an understatement. The Bay State has not had a Republican U.S. senator since 1978. Kennedy’s seat hasn’t been held by a Republican since 1952.

If he is seated soon, Scott Brown will bring a screeching halt to the Democratic supermajority in the U.S. Senate, thus being the one man who can dissolve the liberal dream of Obamacare.

It seems evident that there is a trend in America towards the right. A trend towards smaller government. A trend towards fiscal responsibility. A trend against runaway spending. A trend towards transparency in government.

Last night, the people of Massachusetts spoke to the nation about the kind of government they want. If this type of sentiment is displayed there, in the bluest of blue states, it will not end with them.

Finally, it seems that America may be correcting its course.