Pushing Back Against Collectivism-the Scott Brown Victory


It was revelatory, if not agonizing, to observe the various liberals and liberal pundits 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 were 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.  This, by the way, although incomplete, was, at least, plausible. 

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; they cite the losses of governor races in New Jersey and Virginia last November (Democrats Jon Corzine/Creigh Deeds losing to Republicans Chris Christy/Robert McDonnel respectively) as proof of this strained theory. 

Spokespersons for the Obama administration (and Obama himself) seemed to suggest that it was a function of the same "populist" anger that put him in office.  Senior advisor, David Axelrod, said that "If they have a job, they're working harder for less. They're falling behind. That's been true for a decade."  This version had the advantage of slipping in yet another jab at George Bush. 

Some liberal pundits wondered if the use of the pick up truck (by Brown) was not code for racism.  You see, some liberals think that only white racist red necks drive pick up trucks.  Of course, there were no blacks in this race either. 

Other liberal commentaters thought that Americans were too stupid or childish.  Or blamed the "nihilism" of the Republican party.  Or that America was simply "ungovernable" or the Senate "dysfunctional." 

Some felt the problem wasn't Obamacare, but that it hadn't passed; if Democrats had only succeeded in actually turning health care reform into legislation than everything would have been alright. 

Then there was the old saw about the party in power always losing seats in the mid-term (or pre-mid-term) run ups (in Massachusetts?).  Also commonly raised was the unprecedented crisis left by (guess) Obama's predecessor (see above) for Obama to clean up (Obamistas must imagine that no President before Obama ever inherited a crisis); or that presiding over economic downturns always punishes those in power. 

Some spoke of the ascendancy of the conservative "narrative" to explain Democrat setbacks not the Democrat policies themselves, which had succeeded in swaying public opinion.  We were also informed that while many thought of Massachusetts as the bluest of blue states, the political composition of the Bay state was actually more nuanced than meets the eye; notwithstanding that registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans 3:1 or that a Republican Senator had not been elected there since 1972 (Edward Brooke) when Richard Nixon was President, Massachusetts was now to be understood as a furtive if not checkered conservative hot bed. 

It was neglected by no one that Martha Coakley ran a lackluster campaign with a multitude of gaffes (Curt Schilling as "Yankee fan"), which, in fairness, was true.

Of all of the above, the first bears some resemblance to the truth.  Yes, indeed, Romneycare, 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.  So, Obamacare was very much on the minds of the voters of Massachusetts. 

But it wasn't just that they feared further taxation for something they were already paying for.  No, 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.  The election of Scott Brown was very much a referendum on Obamacare. 

But it was much more.  In fact, it was a referendum on Obama's entire agenda.  Brown opposed not just Obamacare, but "mirandizing" terrorists, trying enemy combatants in civilian courts, closing Guantanamo, reckless spending, and ballooning deficits; he also did not believe water boarding was torture. 

For liberals to dismiss the Massachusetts rebellion, the bluest of the blue going red one year after Obama's inauguration, as anything other than a rejection of Democrat policies, borders on clinical denial. 

Yet, a state of denial is indeed where we find many on the left, as is clear from some of the weird rationalizations they have provided.

The Tea Party movement, the victories in New Jersey (another very "blue" state) and Virginia, and now, incredibly, in Massachusetts, were referenda on the entire leftist agenda of Obama and the Democrat Party.  It was a repudiation of the so called "stimulus" package, cap and trade, Obamacare, union card check, closing Guantanamo, trying foreign terrorists in civilian courts, "apology" diplomacy, appeasing dictators, betraying allies, government bailouts, backroom deal making, towering deficits, grotesque government expansion, and the ongoing targeting and abuse of the private sector.  All this and more was rejected by the voters of Massachusetts, who, a year into Obama's Presidency, have simply had enough. 

"Hope and Change" turned out not to mean a new, pragmatic, post-partisan direction but a radical swing to the left - and the nation simply was not there.  America, it turns out, is not Sweden.

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 (wrong, he was a liberal) 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 a referenda on Bush, but not in the manner imagined by the left; he was rejected 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, expanded government, added new, unfunded entitlements, did nothing to enhance energy independence, fought hard for amnesty, mismanaged Iraq, signed off on thousands of earmarks, and was the Democrat front man for every ridiculous bailout and stimulus package he could get his hands on when the mortgage crisis landed.  Americans were properly angry with Bush and simply rejected 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 to then turn around and vote for Obama and the Democrats, who would only double down on Bush's policies; but voters, like investors, often make emotional decisions.  None of this however represented a shift of the nation to the left but a rejection of a deeply flawed and unpopular President and Republican party.

What Obama, the Democrats, and liberals in general did not appreciate, as their clueless post-Brown excuses demonstrated, was that they were simply out of touch with the nation; America remains a center-right country that does not want a European welfare state, a sclerotic, no-growth economy, institutionalized double-digit unemployment, a weak dollar, high inflation, confiscatory taxes, unsustainable debt, a shriveled military, a diminished presence in the world, and a massive government.  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 reform and improve our existing health care system not completely overhaul it.

Liberals may want single payer health care and big government but most Americans do not.  Liberals may want a European nanny state and exploding deficits but most American do not.  Liberals may want high taxes and "cap and trade" but most Americans do not.  It is up to liberals to square that reality with their policies. 

The hostility and blow back encountered by Democrats in promoting the various health care bills reflected not their inability to "explain" it properly (as Obama himself suggested), but the unwillingness of the electorate to go along with it.  The recent election victories, and particularly the Brown victory in Massachusetts, were all indications of a deeply restive public opposed to the Obama agenda.

It is interesting to note that Obama is being criticized not just from the right and the middle but from the left - for not doing enough.  Incredible as it may seem, for Obama is easily the most radical President in our nation's history, for many on the left, Obama has betrayed the cause: they are deeply troubled that he did not pass health care, gave up on the "public option," did not pass "cap and trade" or arrange a global agreement on carbon emissions in Copenhagen, had not yet even broached union card check, did not yet close Guantanamo, did not yet grant amnesty, did not yet rescind "don't ask, don't tell," is sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan (He did, however campaign on Afghanistan as the "good war."  Was it mere political rhetoric?  A campaign ploy?), did not withdraw from Iraq, and has recently hinted at a spending freeze on some non defense-discretionary spending (a thimble in an ocean).  They also want yet another "stimulus" package and more government spending (trillion dollar deficits mean nothing in the age of Obama). 

No, for many on the left, it is never enough.  Not until they simply run out of other people's money or the economy collapses.  It is a reminder that there exists in this country a Marxist element at war with the founding principles of the nation who will not rest until the nation is indeed undermined and transformed; a so called "progressive" faction whose political philosophy is indistinguishable from socialism, and that would be happy to see the nation morphed into a giant, socialist, welfare state, a country, mind you, in permanent decline, controlled by unions, a few large domesticated corporations, perhaps, and an overbearing administrative state, say, along the lines of Great Britain in the 70s, or even worse (Venezuela? the former Soviet Union?); it is a cabal that houses itself cozily within the modern Democrat party and of which Obama is most emphatically a part - albeit minimally distanced from by the realities of actually governing.  Ideologically, though, he is of the same cloth. 

It is also illuminating to contemplate the shock and confusion occurring within the Democrat party, the administration, Obama's innermost circle, and, ultimately, Obama himself.  It is clear that, based on the direction he (they) attempted to take the country, he (they) actually bought all the hype; believed what he was being told by other liberals and the media: that the nation had shifted radically to the left; that the election of 2008 was the bellwether of a major change in the political winds and fortunes of the country; that he, Obama, was its herald and champion; that he was a transformative figure, even a transcendent and messianic leader, a healer and uniter, the post racial man who would elevate the nation and the public discourse and inaugurate a post-partisan era of good will and cooperation, that he, through leftist policies, would finally lead us to a new utopian age (or, as William Buckley often quoted, "immanentize the eschaton"). 

We find instead that he is a standard issue politician from Chicago who engages in the same deal making, bribery, and patronage of any politician.  He is also startlingly naive, self-absorbed, and, perhaps, incompetent.   On top of which, he is a doctrinaire leftist and not "post-partisan" at all.

He did, after all, sit in the pews of Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church for twenty years, befriended Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn, and ran interference for the discredited ACORN.  He had never worked in the private sector (for which he seems to have unbridled contempt), been a CEO, or ran a business or a state: he was a product of the academic left, a community organizer who served in the US Senate for a few months before deciding to run for Presidency.  He has no distinguishing features or background that would speak for his ability to run the nation effectively - and the past year has given us no reason to change that assessment.

It has also been instructive to see what liberals do with unchecked power.  Controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, they have attempted to ram unpopular bills down the throat of the nation; they have sought to nationalize health care and thereby impose on the country a massive new entitlement that would explode the deficit and fundamentally alter the relationship between citizens and their government, between the private sector and Washington, undermining principles upon which the nation is based and pushing it irrevocably toward a socialist future; they have spent shamelessly adding trillions to the national debt; they have demonstrated contempt and condescencion for ordinary people whom they derided and insulted for legitimate criticism of their effort to commandeer one sixth of the American economy.

The left in this country has been shaken, so great was its confidence in the meaning of 2008, the ascendancy of Barack Obama, and in his "sacred" mission.  The Scott Brown victory has been a bombshell, a profound jolt to the system. 

My guess is that Obama will ignore it.  He may do some head-fakes to the center, but he will not alter substantially his policy initiatives.  Some Democrats in Congress, however, are beginning to see the writing on the wall; although it may be too late.  Others may choose to follow the great one right over the cliff. 

Democrats who ignore the Brown phenomenon do so at their political peril; the victory of a Republican in this uber-blue state, the land of Kerry and Kennedy, taking a Senate seat held by Kennedy for 47 years, has national implications and is a referendum on Obama's first year in office.  

Indeed, America is not Sweden.






  • Noel Putman

    February 6, 2010

    Well stated!

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