Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tea Partier Brown Wins Massachusetts Senate Seat

Brown_CoakleyWhen will they learn? Just a few days ago I posted on how President Barack Obama is governing like a moderate Republican.  The Democrats in Congress, to their detriment, also have decided to cast their lot with their corporate masters rather than the people. At no point have the leaders (except Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, on rare occasions) made any attempt to defend this approach, or liberalism or progressivism in general, leaving a void that has been amply filled by the tiny minority of the country that agrees with the Tea Party activists, and exploited by the GOP, with their corporate media allies. And now we see the tangible result in tonight's Massachusetts special election to fill Teddy Kennedy's former seat. By a 52%-47% margin, Bay State voters installed a Tea Party-identified, Birther-linked, pro-torture, anti-LGBTQ, sexist, right-wing corporatist Republican masquerading as a "independent" everyman named Scott Brown. (I guess that means Marco Rubio will not be the first Tea Party Senator if he's elected.) He defeated establishmentarian Democratic state attorney general, Martha Coakley, a lackluster campaigner who wasn't helped by the situation in Washington. Brown's election seriously endangers the seriously flawed health insurance reform bill, echoing the debacle of 1993-94. If they fail to pass this bill, the damage to Obama and the Democrats will be incalculable.

Do I think that President Obama and the Democrats will draw the proper conclusions from this election? Will they see through the cries against higher taxation (Obama has not raised taxes, and his "stimulus" bill unfortunately cut them instead of devoting the money towards better job-creating programs), deficit spending (most of the deficit was created under Bush, and in the current economic climate, government spending and a deficit are necessary), and anti-health care reform (Massachusetts has a public health care system, and would benefit under a more robust national system, with a public health care option, Medicare buy-in, or best of all, single payer system)? It doesn't appear so. Between Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Jim Webb, and what appears to be coming out of this administration, it appears they are going to go the Clintonian route, which might have worked (well, after 1994), two decades ago, after a prior ineffectual Bush administration, but it isn't going to work now, on basic economic grounds (Hooverism is a prescription for disaster), but also because it is only going to drive away the base and will not draw alienated independents or the recalcitrant GOP.  It also doesn't help that Rahm Emanuel, a chancre on the face of this administration, began slamming Coakley before the polls had even closed.  This is no way to operate and you'd never see this from the GOP, but then again, why should anyone be surprised? Emanuel was a corporate sellout as a Congressperson, and loose at the lips when he worked under Clinton.

Changing course towards real change, towards real progressivism that would turn the economy around and show people that the government was not an annex off Bowling Green and countless multinationals, alongside shedding the likes of Emanuel, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and all the other WallStreetbots and plants in the administration would be a great way to start. Bush cut Paul O'Neill ("the genius of capitalism!") loose when he showed he wasn't conservative enough (and a bit incompetent and loose at the mouth); since he's taking pointer after pointer from his predecessor, Obama might want to try this option out. He should also make more of an effort to get out of Washington and visit people across the country as he did for two years before he won. The bubble is cutting off his air supply, and the mirror of lobbyists, yes people, gladhanders, and the airheaded mainstream Washington media aren't helping one bit. Popular anger may be incoherent, but it's real, and he had better think carefully about and then try to address it. If not, and we keep listing towards the muddle of the middle, with more pro-Wall Street/corporate welfarist and right-wing policies, 1994 will look like 1936.

Award-winning blogger Digby, who's been writing quite a bit about the Pete Peterson Foundation's plans for gutting Social Security and Medicare, summarizes what's predictably coming next, and it doesn't look good.

John Stewart on the Democrats' having only an 18-vote majority now.
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