Massachusetts' Rebellion: No to Obama


It was revelatory, if not agonizing, to observe the various pundits and Democrats explaining Republican Scott Brown's victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election for Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat in Massachusetts recently.  There was any number of fascinating interpretations by obviously creative people. 

I heard, for example, that the citizens of Massachusetts were upset with Obamacare because they already have their own highly problematic version and didn't want to be double taxed for the same costly, failed system. 

Others spoke of "incumbentitis," in which the voters, apparently tired of all incumbents, just happen to be after Democrats since they are the party in power.  Obama himself suggested that it was a function of the same "populist" anger that put him in office.  Some liberal commentators wondered if the use of the pick up truck (by Brown) was not code for racism.  Others wrote that Americans were too stupid or “childish” or that America was no longer “governable.”  Some felt the problem wasn't Obamacare, but that it hadn't actually been passed.  Then there was the old saw about the party in power always losing seats in the mid-term (or pre-mid-term).  Also pointed out (frequently) was the unprecedented crisis left by Obama's predecessor. Some reported that while many thought of Massachusetts as the bluest of states, the political composition of the Bay state was actually more nuanced.  None neglected to mention that Martha Coakley ran a lackluster campaign.

Of all the various theories, the first bears some resemblance to the truth.  Indeed, “Romneycare,” (the Massachusetts’ healthcare system) upon which the various Obamacare proposals were based, had been mugged by reality: universal coverage, individual mandates, and the expansion of Medicaid had led to exploding deficits, higher taxes, skyrocketing premiums (now the highest in the country), and the crowding out of private health insurance; it represented a massive expansion of government (in this case at the state level), and another unsustainable entitlement.  Obamacare, indeed, was very much on the minds of Massachusetts’ voters. 

But it wasn't just that they feared further taxation for something they were already paying for.  It was also that they well understood the pitfalls of government-run health care on a state level and feared the inevitable calamity of attempting the same for the entire nation and its 300 million plus citizens. 

It was much more though.  Brown opposed not just Obamacare, but "mirandizing" terrorists, trying enemy combatants in civilian courts, closing Guantanamo, and the fiscal profligacy of the federal government. 

The recent victories in New Jersey (another very "blue" state) and Virginia, and now in Massachusetts, were repudiations of much of the Democrat agenda: Obamacare, yes, but also "stimulus,” cap and trade, weakness on security, government bailouts, backroom deal making, eye-popping deficits, and the ongoing assault on the private sector.  This and more was on the minds of Massachusetts voters, who, a year into Obama's Presidency, have simply had enough. 

The Democrat election victories in 2006 and 2008 were misread by the Democrat leadership who fancied that the nation had actually shifted to the left.  They mistakenly imagined that the low approval ratings of Bush whom they believed was a conservative meant that America had rejected conservatism and that the election results of 2006 and 2008 proved it.  The truth, however, was something else. 

The elections of 2006 and 2008 were indeed referenda on Bush, but not in the manner imagined by the left; he was spurned not because he was a conservative but the opposite: because he was a big government liberal who abandoned conservative principles.  He increased spending and doubled the public debt, added new, unfunded entitlements, did nothing to enhance energy independence, fought for amnesty, mismanaged Iraq, signed off on thousands of earmarks, and was the Democrat front man for every bailout and stimulus package he could find when the mortgage crisis arrived.  Americans were properly angry with Bush and deserted him and his party. 

While it is true that, on the surface, it makes no sense for disgruntled moderates and independents who had voted for Bush and the GOP before to then turn around and vote for Obama and the Democrats, who would only double down on Bush's policies, voters, like investors, make emotional decisions.  None of this however represented a shift of the nation to the left but a rebuff of a deeply flawed and unpopular President.

What Obama, the Democrats, and liberals in general, did not appreciate, as their post-Brown excuses demonstrated, was that America remains a center-right country that does not want a European welfare state, a no-growth economy, institutional double-digit unemployment, a weak dollar, high inflation, confiscatory taxes, unsustainable debt, and a diminished military.  It also does not want nationalized health care. Rather, it prefers a limited government, balanced budgets, a strong military, and a vibrant private sector.  It also wants to improve our existing health care system not completely overhaul it.

Democrats who ignore the Brown phenomenon do so at their political peril; the victory of a Republican in this uber-blue state has national implications.  America, it turns out, is not Sweden.  








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