Tuesday, January 19, 2010

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I'm in a confession mood again. Tonight's results in the Boston election for a replacement for Senator Kennedy's Senate seat, have me scratching my head. Like many other Democrats, this was one seat I believed was safe. You'd think Teddy Kennedy's memory alone would serve as a shoo-in for a liberal candidate. (Is anything sacred, anymore?) You'd think that a state with three Democrats for every Republican wouldn't have to worry about a real challenge from the Right.

But Martha Coakley went down to defeat (47%), while Scott Brown (52%) scores a stunning upset.

And already a postmortem is taking place. As one pundit observed: "There's blame aplenty to go around."

Some are blaming Martha Coakley herself. They say she allowed Scott Brown to define her, and the scope of the election. Others are saying she took too much time off (I hear three weeks.). And during that time, Brown had the field to himself, and he took advantage of it.

Still others are blaming Coakley's failure on local politics, the unhappiness of Massachusetts' electorate with the economy, and recent tax increases. Some have observed that the state's health-care system, although expensive, has broad coverage, and people are happy with it--suggesting that maybe they didn't want Washington tinkering with it.

Perhaps the most optimistic message some are seeing is this: Voting in Brown is sending a message to the Democratically-held congress that it's not going far enough in its efforts to reform health care, and that they want their representatives to get tougher, and pass real health-care reform, and take up other progressive legislation.

That seems a bit naive to me. You don't give your opponent another loaded weapon (in this case, a filibuster majority), if you're down to your last few bullets.

Whatever the reason, the Republicans have scored a major upset, and I'm left in a quandary. As painful as it is, I have to admit: I don't understand the mind of the electorate.

Here we are struggling with a seesaw economy inherited from the previous administration. Two wars inherited from the previous administration. An international black eye inherited from the previous administration. A gaggle of do-nothing Republicans, waging an obstructionist war against Democratic incumbents. And what do Democrats do for an encore? They besmirch the memory of Teddy Kennedy, possibly depriving him of his dream for health-care reform, and elect to his seat, not a Blue Dog Democrat, but another do-nothing Republican who claims he's fiscally conservative, and will vote against tax increases and the looming health-care reform bill.

Frankly, I don't see the logic.

With liberal friends like this, you don't need Republican enemies. Democrats are their own worse enemy. Republicans need only resist, whine, and persist to be rewarded. Unlike Republicans who can circle a wagon train, all going in the same direction, Right. Democrats, on the other hand, don't know their Left from their Right, and keep bumping into each other.

Okay, perhaps the health-care reform bill in the Senate is nothing more that a give-away to Big Insurers. We haven't seen the final version. It has been secreted away, at least the finalizing moves, to wed it with the Senate version, ostensibly to prevent more Republican stall tactics.

Perhaps it should be scrapped and replaced with Medicare for those fifty and above--Democrats possibly hammering out something in reconciliation. Because Democrats play fairly, more fairly than Republicans, I'd be shocked if they hold up the induction of Brown. If they don't, and if they don't find a way to pass some kind of health-care reform bill, before Brown takes the oath of office, health-care reform is dead on arrival.

Will the Democrats run even more scared now--now that a Republican from an ultra-blue state has become a senator, and abandon health-care reform altogether, as well as a progressive agenda?

And what about President Obama's agenda--keeping his campaign promises? Will he have to scrap that, too, now that the filibuster proof senate has gone bust?

Are we seeing a referendum on the president and the Democrats' progressive hopes for the country? It's going to be twice as hard now to get anything of a reform nature or a progressive nature through both houses of Congress.

I heard one woman remark that she was voting for Scott Brown because she wanted to equalize the power in the Senate. What she failed to observe: the minority party wields most of the power simply by sticking together, and doing nothing, but allowing the democrats and the blue dogs to battle it out.

Republicans can win more through inaction than through action. Who would have thunk it: Sitting on one's ass can open up more opportunities for success, than actually getting up off of one's ass and doing something? I guess doing nothing is tantamount to doing something, just as not to decide is to decide.

What is the message Democrats need to take from this election, if any? You have the floor, now.

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I'm on CREDO's mailing list. They've composed a letter you can send to friends, if you choose, and a link to sign a petition (No, I'm not giving up.):

--The CREDO Action Team

Here's a sample message to send to your friends:


Subject: Message from Massachusetts: Pass a public option with 51 votes

Dear Friend,

The voters of the ultra-Blue state of Massachusetts have decided to elect Scott Brown, a conservative Republican to the Senate in a special election. With the election of a Republican senator from Massachusetts, the Democrats' so-called "filibuster proof" majority in the Senate is officially dead.

The loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat sends a clear message that the Senate health care bill does not go far enough. While the message might be lost on the power brokers within the Democratic Party, the message of the Massachusetts special election is clear.

Voters did not elect President Obama and a Democratic supermajority in the House and the Senate so that health care reform could be written by the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson.

I signed a petition telling President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid that the Senate must use reconciliation to pass a better health care bill with a strong public option. I hope you'll follow the link below and take action, too.


Campaign For Reconciliation Petition Drive

24 comments:

c.c.-kathy said...

I can't see the logic either. Massachusetts was supposed to be the pilot plan for universal health care, and everybody there loves it, so I guess they don't want anybody else to have it so good?

I think it may be a combination of things, such as jobs, and also, I do not think some people like President Obama endorsing people. Why did Coakly take off for three weeks, that wasn't such a good idea either.

I think Harold Ford has a better chance of winning in NY, although I am usually wrong:))

Black Diaspora said...

kathy, I'm nonplussed. I'm not sure I can predict the voters' mood on anything right about now.

Pundits are offering many reasons for Coakley's defeat, blaming mainly her arrogance--she didn't get out and meet the people and shake their hands, because she said it was too cold--and the Democrat machine's assumption that a Kennedy family endorsed candidate was a shoo-in in a mega-Blue state.

Perhaps it is the economy. But why reward those who wrecked the economy? Republicans' only plan is to make Wall Street richer and cut taxes, maybe.

Tax cuts and Bush's "stimulus checks" did little to reverse our economic free fall.

I watched Howard Dean this morning using "pretzel logic" to put a happy face on this monumental loss, declaring, on the one hand, that Brown's election was designed to send a message to the White House and the Congress that it's mis-handling the economy and shortchanging health insurance reform, and, on the other hand, that Coakley's victory would have sealed the deal on health-care reform, since the polls in Massachusetts indicated a desire for a public option, and she supported it.

c.c.-kathy said...

"Perhaps it is the economy. But why reward those who wrecked the economy? Republicans' only plan is to make Wall Street richer and cut taxes, maybe."

Well, I read that people were angry about Wall Street getting preferred treatment from Obama, none of this makes sense. But then again, how often does the general public make sense, oh, no, I probably shouldn't say that:))

Black Diaspora said...

Well, one thing is for sure, kathy, the administration is taking notice--trying to make heads or tails of it.

They need to read the signs correctly, or they're going to keep making the same mistakes, and the electorate is going to continue to punish them--either because of the economic mess, or doing too little towards health insurance reform.

This is not a good time to be in the White House. I understand George Bush was more than ready to quit when his term was up.

Ernesto said...

"What is the message Democrats need to take from this election, if any?"

The lesson is that Rahm Emanuel is the destroyer of Democratic majorities. His policy of corporate cash-chasing ends up pissing off the Democratic base, because it puts Wall Street ahead of Main Street. Democrats in Massachusetts outnumber R's and I's by three to one. They didn't show up.

Here's the dilemma: Obama needs to raise about 4 to 8 hundred million dollars to get re-elected in 2012. How can he do that without sucking up the Big Money gang, which will turn off his base voters?

We need 100 percent publicly-financed campaigns. It's the only way out of this mess.

(im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
(im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ said...

i didn't follow this very closely but i dont see much difference between Obama DLC-like, republican-lite political philosophy and the real republicans. i am thinking why vote for republican-lite when you can vote for the real thing?

@ Ernesto: so are you saying a significant number of the dem base (whatever that is) voted for Brown? it was my understanding that the Indys that put Brown over the top. kzs

Ernesto said...

"so are you saying a significant number of the dem base (whatever that is) voted for Brown?"

No, I said they didn't show up at all, because they have given up on Democrats actually doing anything for working class people.

As bad as the campaign corrupt cash influence is, it just got HUGELY worse, thanks to the Supreme Court decision that now allows corporations even more access to destroy what's left of the integrity of the process.

(im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ said...

gotcha. my bad, totally missed that sentence. kzs

Black Diaspora said...

Ernesto: "As bad as the campaign corrupt cash influence is, it just got HUGELY worse, thanks to the Supreme Court decision"

Ernesto, I feel you on this one. The Supremes have made two bad decisions in recent years, and this is one of them. This current decision continues the erosion of the people's power.

I want to thank you for bringing this potential decision to my attention weeks ago.

Not that it hasn't always been there, but we're now seeing a steady shift of power from the people to corporations, and it's a disturbing trend, and the American people are asleep at the wheel.

One morning they'll wake up to a whole new constitution, the rights of which will have been chiseled away by corporations.

I will blog about this in the days ahead. This is a significant ruling, and I don't think congress is prepared to take on the ire of Big Corp to offset it.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "We need 100 percent publicly-financed campaigns. It's the only way out of this mess."

I couldn't agree with you more: The subject of another blog.

The recent Supreme Court ruling has made "publicly-finance campaigns" even more imperative.

Americans need to wake up. Big Corp would like nothing better than to run our lives, and set public policy. That's a paternalism I can't live with.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "The lesson is that Rahm Emanuel is the destroyer of Democratic majorities."

You may be on to something here. And if you're right, why the silence from those in the know. Why aren't they calling for Rahm's immediate removal?

Sadly, some Democrats still believe they can reach across the aisle and pull in Republicans.

Even the president has stated that he doesn't want to ram through health-care reform, but want to wait until Brown is seated.

Does he know something I don't know? Brown is a Republican. He can wear an Independent suit when it suits him, but in the end he's going to go with the Republican majority, and walk lockstep with them.

If obstructionist tactics are working for Republicans, why would they want to give up that ploy and suddenly decide to work with Democrats?

It's just not realistic!

This health-care reform bill may not be worth the paper it's printed on.

If we can't get real reform, maybe it should be scrapped. But the argument against that is: We have to start somewhere, and failure is more destructive to the party than passing a bad bill.

I'm hoping the Democrats won't wimp out, and put on hold other agenda items until after critical elections have passed. Obama may not get a second term.

c.c.-kathy said...

Ernesto, what was the Supreme Court decision? I am really falling behind, the more I want to write a post about the economy, the more I feel distracted.

Black Diaspora, I wonder if President Obamaa will get a second term.

Black Diaspora said...

"Black Diaspora, I wonder if President Obamaa will get a second term."

kathy, it all depends. If he gets his act together, and addresses the nation's immediate concern--the economy, and turning it around--he's got a better than 50-50 chance.

Let me take a stab at the question you posed to Ernesto.

The Supremes said substantially that corporations are people like you and me and are entitled to first-amendment rights, specifically, freedom of speech.

Therefore, like any other person, corporations enjoy the same opportunities as individuals to impact legislation, and outcomes of political races, by way of their donations.

This is the gist of it as I understand it. Of course there are subtleties I'm glossing over.

The problem: Corporations aren't people, and, as a result, they enjoy certain financial and legal privileges.

Because of this ruling: they get to operate as people for political campaigns and legislative purposes, and as corporations for everything else.

That's a simplistic answer, but I think it states it succinctly.

Ernesto gave me a heads up on this Supreme court case. Perhaps he can offer more clarification of the ruling for the both of us.

The potential harm of the decision: Big Corp can use its considerable economic power to shape public policy, especially policies that impact them directly.

In recent months, it's been health-care insurance reform, and Wall Street entitlements.

Anonymous said...

The question is, how much of a Democrat is MARTHA COAKLEY? this lady went on VACATION for three week's? did the President know this? was he keeping up with this? he knew how important TED KENNEDY'S seat was, to the HEALTH CARE BILL? I put this in the President's lap! he did NOT care about TED'S LEGACY enough,to make sure, TED'S seat was kept Safe from a REPUBLICAN!

Martha Coakley had a Forty Seven lead, so that mean's, people were Voting for her, why did she STOP CAMPAIGNING! now, no matter what, some people in MASSACHUSETT'S were NOT going to vote for her, if she gave out HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL'S!

I did not keep up with the campaigning, I thought I could take a break, I too thought, all was well, and it was NOT! if I watched, I would have seen Signal's! because there are alway's there, GOD will not leave us in DARKNESS!

Did anyone know, Scott Brown's wife, was a NEW'S REPORT? why was that hid? they kept this WOMAN HID OUT until ELECTION NIGHT! think MICHELLE would have been hid out, until the last minute? NO!

Scott Brown PRETENDED to be in LACK! this man has PROPERTY all over the PLACE! do you think, some of those Democrat's that Voted for him, knew this? maybe NOT! all I know is, the FAITHFUL Democrat's in Massachusett's, voted the RIGHT way, but, the UNFAITHFUL, VOTED for the Candidate on the RIGHT! SHAME!

BLACK DIASPORA, are you going to get to the REAL ROOT? it's out there, you SEE! go find the CULPRIT'S! The HEALTH CARE BILL is at RISK!

ISEEISEE

Anonymous said...

Because THEY are alway's there! (SMILE) made a mistake.

Black Diaspora said...

@kathy. A clarification on Supreme Court Ruling;

"Corporations, trade associations, unions and nonprofit groups still aren't allowed to make direct contributions to federal politicians, but today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such groups may now spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for or against politicians. In doing so, the Supreme Court, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, tossed out the distinction between individuals and corporations and their ilk when it comes to independent expenditures...."

Black Diaspora said...

@IseeIsee: "BLACK DIASPORA, are you going to get to the REAL ROOT? it's out there, you SEE! go find the CULPRIT'S! The HEALTH CARE BILL is at RISK!"

IseeIsee, I'll do my best, using whatever resources are at my disposal.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

To be honest with you, right now I don't know what to think about the President. I am getting frustrated with him myself.

Sending a message by letting a Republican have Kennedy's seat did not make much sense to me and any Democrat who called themselves sending a message to the President about the Health Care Bill really didn't use their head in my opinion. If they wanted to send a message, they could have organized and marched, wrote letters, and used other means to do that.

Like I tried to tell people before that were pitching a hissy fit about public option, WE ALREADY HAD IT! It was cost and availability that we needed to focus in on.

I dunno Diaspora, right now, Granny is not thinking too clearly. My focus is on Haiti. Therefore, y'all can look over me for the time being.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Public Option is the right to choose. Do people not get to choose which health care insurance they want when filling out their health care forms at work? Are there not more than one to choose from? Even on Medicare they give you a choice. That's public option!

For some reason I think that a lot of people want Medicare added to public option. The reason why some of the Congress is calling it government run Health care. Maybe, I am missing it. Like I said before, right now, Granny is not thinking too clearly and my focus is off.

Black Diaspora said...

Granny, Medicare for all would be Universal Health Care of a sort.

If you can afford to purchase health insurance, you can only select from those doing business in your state.

You usually can't go out of state.

If you get it via your job, or your Union, you're again restricted to those with whom the Union or your job contract.

If you have Medicare, you can select any doctor, or hospital you choose, that accepts Medicare as payment.

But with today's Supreme Court ruling, the president and the Democrats got bigger fish to fry.

See my latest blog entry.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote] Like many other Democrats, this was one seat I believed was safe. You'd think Teddy Kennedy's memory alone would serve as a shoo-in for a liberal candidate. (Is anything sacred, anymore?) [/quote]

Black Diaspora - why are you more focused upon the VOTER ELASTICITY shown in the state of Massachusetts as the people react to their beliefs that their interests are not being serviced INSTEAD of looking at the Black Community and our VOTER NULLIFICATION?

Despite having Democrats in control over our local institutions the Black voter ROUTINELY looks past the "failings of the Local Democrats" and works to get rid of "National Republicans".

I am one step ahead of you Black Diaspora. You might CLAIM that the Black voter is conscious of his own BEST INTERESTS and thus votes that way. There are far too many examples to prove that this is NOT the case.

Despite having "favorable people" in the key institutions that provide our civic services - the failure to deliver is not a terminal offense. Instead it often means that the Black Establishment will drive our community to TRY HARDER during the next election.

He is focused upon the "Mission From God" per the permanent struggle rather than incrementally MANAGING it into fruition.

sisterstation said...

Most annoying of all is the way the pundits say that Mr. Obama lost an election! Like his name was on the ballot. It is very sad for me to say this, but I see another civil war in our future.

Black Diaspora said...

@sisterstation. Somehow I missed your comment. Obama gets blamed for everything, including the earthquake in Haiti, and, if they could, for Katrina.

Seriously, a "civil war" is not that farfetched. With the election of Obama, many are feeling this country slip out of their grasp.

But it was never their country. The country was stolen, first from Native Americans, and then from England who had laid claim to it for the purpose of exploiting its vast wealth.