Tuesday, January 19, 2010
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
I have long held three beliefs:
1). Nobody likes a crying rich man. (We all know the type: a person with high income who complains about taxes and spending for the poor, and then freezes his or her workers' wages or sends their jobs overseas once he gets his or her tax cut; i.e. a free market or free trade conservative Republican).
2. Nobody likes an aloof, arrogant, out-of-touch, elitist, limousine liberal. (We all know this type, too: one who believes in big government and programs for the poor [but would never be caught dead actually associating with workers or the poor], has plenty of money his or herself, and isn't the least bit hesitant about spending your tax dollars even as he or she takes advantage of a number of loopholes you don't have).
3. That candidate who most often and most enthusiastically works the crowds will be the winning candidate in an election. (Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and now Scott Brown fit this mold. Thomas Dewey, Walter Mondale, John McCain, and now Martha Coakley did not).
Tonight, far right, free trader, teabagger conservative Republican Scott Brown achieved the unthinkable: he soundly defeated his Democratic challenger Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election to fill Teddy Kennedy's old Senate seat. The national repercussions of this (which I will get into momentarily) are huge. But three important reasons for Brown's success stand above all others. One, Coakley was a very lazy, ineffective, distant, and lackadaisical campaigner. There was little fire, desire, passion, or inspiration in her campaign speeches. She appeared comatose, and comastose drips don't win elections. Two, she simply did not get out to press the flesh as she should have. In contrast, Brown campaigned actively and was in all the right places at all the right times. Three, Coakley was ill-prepared and made serious gaffes on gut-level local topics. In an interview, she referred to former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a Boston icon, as "a Yankee fan." THE Curt Schilling, who in 2004 helped the Sox defeat their hated Yankee rivals in the American League Championship Series, and then guided them to their first World Series championship in 86 years, pitching selflessly and courageously on a very injured, torn, bleeding ankle. Instead of door-knocking over the holidays, Coakley went on vacation. Now, if you're serious about an important political race, you save your vacation time until AFTER the election, not during the campaign. This she did not do. Perceived as aloof and out-of-touch by many voters, they vented their displeasure with her by voting against her. She and she alone BLEW it!
This has already caused unnecessary and unwise disputes and finger-pointing among Democrats. The White House is blaming Coakley and the Democratic Party for this defeat. The Party is blaming the White House and Coakley. But this blame game is pointless and counterproductive. For there is plenty of blame to go around. Coakley obviously ran a very poor campaign and thought she could coast into office in this normally heavily and reliably Democratic state. But the national Party also coasted and took this race for granted, too, not putting enough strategic and tactical expertise behind their candidate. And the White House also played it too safe, with the popular President not even bothering to go to bat for Coakley until the last moment.
Aside from Coakley's below-average campaign performance, both she and the Party failed to properly define her and her opponent. In recent years, Democratic strategists have failed miserably in this regard, whereas Republicans have excelled, even to the point of telling bald-faced, outright lies about themselves and their opponents. This campaign was no exception. While successfully painting Coakley as an aloof and out of touch candidate much like those in Washington, they successfully sold the lie of Brown as a populist, man-of-the-people type. This, of course, is blatant baloney, as Brown opposes much-needed government regulation of Wall Street and health care reform providing universal coverage, two things the vast majority of average, everyday working Americans would benefit from greatly (and wealthy special interests vehemently oppose).
It will now be extremely difficult for Democrats or the President to pass health care legislation the conventional way. Brown's election will now further embolden the wacko teabaggers and congressional Republicans, who will try to spin his election to mean a thorough repudiation of the President's agenda and a national rejection of the Democrats' "socialist" initiatives. Both of these assertions will undoubtedly be jumped on and advanced by Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News", and the Republican Party. They will also both be lies, but that won't stop them. For they have all institutionalized the lie as a political and campaign tool countless times over the past 16 years. If you thought the Republicans were obstructionist and uncooperative this past year, they'll REALLY be that way now! The net result of all this will not only be a stalling of the President's agenda, but it will also bring about a softening of his party's positions on issues. For the Democrats have never mastered Muhammad Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy whereby one allows his opponent to dish out all kinds of blows but then finally comes roaring back with a savage and effectively victorious counterattack. No, the Democrats get pummeled and then they go cower in the corner until the next election bell sounds, when they find they are defeated by the judge's (electorate's) tally. If they're lucky, they end up with a split decision and hang onto numerical advantage. If they're unlucky, they are knocked out of office. But running campaigns like this current one will never allow them the pleasure of a knockout victory!
I painted a fearsome look at a possible near-future in my January 12, 2010 post "A Warning: How Did This Horror Story Happen?" Now I ask you: IS THIS THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME? The Republicans have successfully lied and convinced the voters that maybe Obama and the Democrats are spending too much money and are allowing too much government control to intrude into their lives and business in general. The TRUE story, of course, is that the President and Congress want to provide good and necessary change for the country, limiting the control banks, corporations, and plutocrats are exerting over us all, using the government to achieve these goals for the benefit of the overwhelming majority of the country who AREN'T wealthy or well-connected. But as long as we, the progressives, the liberals, and the true Democrats sit on our asses and don't loudly and forcefully stand up to these plutocratic conservative Republican and teabagger lies, we will see more defeats like tonight in Massachusetts. We will see a return to government totally for the rich and a Bush/Cheney style militaristic and aggressive foreign policy. But if we actively campaign for progressive candidates this fall, and, along the way, flood our newspapers and magazines with letters to the editor, and our social networking, with facts and info debunking and disproving Republican lies, this November's midterm election will not be a disaster like tonight's Massachusetts one was. And we must also hold our Democrats' feet under the fire and convince them to work on our behalf rather than soft pedalling and going Republican Lite.Our success or failure depends totally on US, so get with the program, people. Dig in your heels and FIGHT THESE REPUBLICAN LIES!
UP NEXT: "THE U.S. AND HAITI'S LONG, UNEVEN RELATIONSHIP"