The Significance of Scott Brown’s Win in Massachusetts

The election of Scott Brown to the US Senate by the people of Massachusetts is the big political news of the week, and why wouldn’t it be? Massachusetts hasn’t had a Republican Senator since the 1970s.

So who is Scott Brown? What did his campaign look like? How was he able to pull it off? And most of all, what does his win mean?

After a stint in local politics that began in 1992, Brown was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1998 and then to the Massachusetts Senate in 2004.

According to his Wikipedia entry he was a supporter of the 2006 Massachusetts healthcare reform agenda, which mandated that all residents of that state be required to purchase health insurance. On foreign policy he is in support of further intervention in Afghanistan. Moreover, he has supported regional cap-and-trade.

This is not the kind of Republican that makes a free-marketer proud. Rather Brown’s stances epitomize the neo-conservative worldview – big government at home, intervention abroad, wrapped in a do nothing cloak of social conservatism. Nonetheless, considering the circumstances, I’m elated to have him.

And of course we all understand what the circumstances are. The Democrats have the House of Representatives, a super-majority in the Senate, and the White House. That’s a lot of power, and the Democrats have been using it to legislate all manner of nonsense, but most importantly they have been trying to ram “healthcare reform” down the throats of a strongly opposed American public.

So seeing the way the winds were blowing Scott Brown opportunistically seized upon these circumstances and framed the entire election in terms of them. It was a masterful strategy.

By framing his campaign as a referendum on the Obama administration, and in particular healthcare reform, Brown was able to woo disaffected Massachusetts residents to his side. In addition, by playing up his soon to be pivotal role in the healthcare debate he was able to spread his fund raising efforts out to disaffected Americans nationwide.

The simplest explanation for his election is that a majority of Bay Staters were against the current healthcare reform efforts and saw the election of Brown as a way to stop the whole thing dead in its tracks. Of course, there are probably a good number of people who would have voted for him anyway, but what I am referring to is the up swell that put him over the top. This was almost certainly due to the healthcare issue. And that’s it.

If you read this election tightly then you will concur that in a “normal election” under “normal circumstances” a Democrat would have won, just like they did for the last 30+ years. Basically extraordinary circumstances resulted in an extraordinary result. That’s it. Just move along, There’s nothing else to see here.

A more sophisticated explanation is that this election was about the balance of power in American politics. Now, I’d like to think that was the case, as it would mean that Americans were really thinking about the way things work in Washington. That they were in fact not voting against healthcare reform so much as voting for general gridlock. If this really entered the minds of most people as they pulled the lever yesterday, then we have turned a corner. It would mean that people are starting to think a couple of levels deeper than what is on the surface. Unfortunately, as much as I hope for it, I doubt this is actually the case.

Another explanation proffered is that conservatism generally and Republicans specifically are on the rise again, well because Republicans are good and Democrats are bad. Yeah sure, the pundits wrap it in all kinds of other words, and a mess of hyperbole, but “Republicans good – Democrats bad” is what this argument is at its core.

But Brown is hardly conservative. Rather he’s a liberal who calls himself a Republican, a Republican in Name Only, a RINO. Therefore, while this may be a win for Republicans, this is not a win for conservatives except insofar as it puts the brakes on the Obama-Pelosi-Reid express train to hell.

In fact if this is the kind of Republicans that are going to be elected in November I’d much rather have the Democrats, as conservatives are more likely to relax their guard if anyone sporting the Republican brand is elected.

The explanation that the sour grapes losers throw around is that Coakley was a bad candidate, ran a bad campaign, and it was all her fault that she lost. Of course you only think this if you don’t want to face reality, and the simple fact that the wheels are coming off the Obama bus. Actually if you believe this then I prefer that you continue to believe it.

One final explanation I would like to explore is that there is populist revolution underway. That the people are finally seeing Washington for what it is, a disastrous waste of resources and a net value drain on our country. If this is the case then it will be proved out by the election of small government Republicans in November. People who seek to undo rather than do, who seek to return most domestic power to the states and the people themselves. Time will tell. I am cautiously optimistic.

So at the end of the day, at least for now, the simple explanation is probably correct. The election of Scott Brown was a strong rebuke of Obama’s first year in office and especially the Democratic efforts to “reform” healthcare. He won on his stated platform. That’s it.

As to whether Brown’s win is a harbinger for the November elections, we’ll have to wait and see. The Democrats could learn their lesson, lighten up on the radical agenda a bit, the economy could improve, and unemployment could draw down.

This all could happen, but I suspect that it will not. Rather the Democrats will probably learn all of the wrong lessons, attempt to repackage themselves on the outside and become ever sneakier when it comes to pushing their agenda. This is what happens when the tools in the marketing department come to run your country.

And of course if you’ve been reading my weekly then you know exactly what I think about the economy and unemployment, that the whole “recovery” is a farce waiting to reveal itself.

So the stars are probably aligning in such a way that 2010 will see the Republicans making gains, but if we just elect a bunch of Scott Browns then the joke is on us.

On the other hand, you can help prevent this from happening by supporting good candidates like Rand Paul and Peter Schiff.

  1. #1 by Lee Gonzales on Saturday, January 23, 2010 - 10:16

    I certainly agree with you that we must elect non- RINOs to Congress.

    Politicans on the Republican side of the equation like to spout campaign rhetoric that is appealing to marginally informed voters such as “what we need is lower taxes and less government” but never explain or tell voters what agency, bureau or department the axe is going to strike. Therefore the grassroots must insist on telling them where the cuts must be made and two targets come immediately to mind: end foreign aid and bring the war to a swift conclusion and bring the troops home.

    You mention Peter Schiff and Rand Paul and I will look at their websites on their views on foreign aid and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Unless we start to abolish bureaus, agencies and major cabinet department we are wasting our time campaigning for folks who just sound good and who have charisma and Hollywood good looks. The Tea Party leaders like Eric Odom tell us it was a tactical manuver to push for Scott Brown instead of Joe Kennedy. Poor strategies tend to backfire. Was there a strategy of educating the voters on sound money, sound economics and the proper function of government accompanying their efforts to get Brown elected? If there was great. But if not what is going to keep a bona fide Liberal Democrat from retaking that Senate seat in two years? If the strategy was only to elect Brown then he is unreliable due to his habit of voting for socialist programs as you point out in your article, Craig.

    If the Tea Party folks will keep after Brown and make him tow the line, coupled with a door to door campaign with Constitutionalist literature and DVDs well, then, that will be a welcome change and hope. The bigger goal must be to permanently educate voters.

    Those who put principle before politics and pragamtism follow a superior strategy in the long run. We may accomplish a delay in Obama care with the RINOs but a day of reckoning is just beyond the horizon unless we follow up by creating an informed electorate and not just work to shift a few seats around in Congress.

    The Republican and Democrat leadership as it presently stands serves a different master. The party leadership has been given an agenda, whether they realize it or not, but it is important that many of us begin to realize that we aren’t just engaged in a purely ideological war but in a war with people who have an agenda. Scotts’ win may have made it more difficult to push Obamcare but the agenda of totally socializing our nation is still their goal and we can’t stop them with more Scott Browns who, don’t know or don’t care, about anthing else except getting elected.

    Some final thoughts: if we educate the electorate first in enough congressional districts there won’t be a shortage of men and women who will be willing to run for office on our agenda. Don’t think that the “conservative” talking heads of radio are going to best the great champions of free markets. The Hannities and Limbaughs won’t educate voters past the parameters of Democrats versus Republicans. They’ll never get their listeners to pick up books like The Law by Bastiat or to give their listeners a thorough understanding as to why Congress was given the power to declare war and why this war is not a war against terrorism but aganist America. The agenda of the masters of the Republican and Democrat leadership must be challenged and the “conservative” talk show hosts aren’t willing to go there! But we don’t need them – we can do the job at work, at play,in our neighborhood, on the plane or in the coffee house.

    Enough constitutionalists in congress to get the job done may mean we’ll need a solid core of 100 or as few as 50 (look what one has done- Ron Paul), but for certain they can be elected! We have to give the education of the electorate a higher priority, or at least the same priority, we give to working to get someone elected to Congress. Educating the voters on solid constitutional principles is never a waste of time or money. Getting a RINO elected is a dice throw.

  1. Week in review « Craig W. Wright

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