As the sun rises this morning and bathes in pinks and reds and yellows the frost-covered expanses of the fruited plain, Americans everywhere are stirring. America’s true awakening, however, came last night in the form of victory at the polls for Scott Brown, an unknown state senator from Wrentham, Massachusetts only a few months ago, now thrust onto the national stage as the unlikely successor to Ted Kennedy and the U.S. Senate seat Kennedy held for 46 years.
And this morning, left-leaning politicians, pundits and media types are scrambling to come together and unify behind a makeshift, threadbare explanation of just what happened in the Bay State yesterday. Inevitably, the Democratic Party establishment will blame Martha Coakley, Martha Coakley will blame Barack Obama, and Barack Obama will blame George W. Bush. Well, perhaps the last part was a stretch. But lessons certainly did abound. Lessons for Democrats, lessons for Republicans, and lessons for all of us.
Lessons For Democrats
First and foremost, above and beyond everything else, the result of last night’s special election in Massachusetts is a lesson for Democrats everywhere.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. No, not a Republican victory in the Bay State, though that wasn’t supposed to happen, either. What really wasn’t supposed to happen, the larger story among large stories, is that a Tea Party candidate won in Massachusetts — the bluest of the blue states, the hob-knobbing ground for Harvard types and generations of Kennedys. This isn’t 1773 anymore — tea parties just don’t happen in Massachusetts, unless tennis and yachts and trips to Martha’s Vineyard are also involved.
Now that the progressives have turned the mainstream media into an official propaganda orifice, however, we all should have to wonder aloud: where are they going to get their news? Sure, having a gaggle of pin-striped, capped-teeth sycophants running around trumpeting your causes and covering your gaffes may be a convenient way to broadcast your message and gloss over indiscretions, but it ultimately results in a not-so-free press which turns into a one-way street. The liberals in America can send, but they can’t receive.
And that’s why they didn’t see this one coming until it was right smack on top of them.
Over the past year, ever since CNBC’s Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade in February and, in the face of the Democratic Party’s subsidization of failure and War on Success and Prosperity, proposed a “Chicago Tea Party in July,” the liberal reaction to the Tea Party movement has been consistent and simple – marginalize them. Real people don’t join Tea Party protests, they said. Your family and your neighbors don’t join Tea Party protests. Your coworkers don’t join Tea Party protests. No one you know or associate with joins Tea Party protests, because the Tea Party movement is for fringe radicals and racists, for reactionaries and bigots, for isolated right-wing nutjobs who emerged from their dark, dank cellars to brandish guns and wave homemade signs. It’s an irrelevant idiocracy. That was the signal being uttered by a frightened American political left and faithfully repeated by a subservient mainstream press, and it looks like Democrats made the fatal mistake of drinking their own Kool-Aid. They wrote off the Tea Party movement as inconsequential. They told the lie, spread the lie, and then believed it.
And that was a mistake.
According to polling by Rasmussen Reports, Massachusetts voters are roughly split when it comes to the Tea Party movement with 40 percent of today’s voters viewing the movement favorably and 41 percent viewing it unfavorably. That’s right. In Massachusetts–one of the greatest repositories of liberalism in the entire nation–the Tea Party movement is polling about as well as Barack Obama does nationally.
A little more than a month ago, a contributor to The Next Right named Ironman–likely either a very fit person, a comic book buff or a fan of Vince Flynn novels–called for the Republican Party to back Brown in Massachusetts. He likened it to the Doolittle Raid in 1942: striking into the heart of enemy territory. The message to the Democrats, Ironman insisted, would be the same as it was to the Japanese in World War II — if we can strike your heartland, we can hurt you anywhere.
And although the Tea Party is polling much, much stronger in Massachusetts than they should be (by liberal standards, at least), the issues and principles which run to the core of the Tea Party movement are polling even more strongly, with 51 percent of voters frowning on the bank bailouts and 56 percent disliking the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler. And yet, eclipsing all these issues, Massachusetts voters don’t like the health care reform. That’s significant in itself, considering that Massachusetts–along with Maine’s failed Dirigo Health System–has been a real-life testing ground for many of the policies sought on a national level by Democrats advocating drastic health care reform.
Democrats were worried before. They have got to be panicking now. More than a dozen Democratic Party lawmakers have either announced their retirement or switched parties. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might as well pack his historic office, the very same office in which Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as an undoubtedly discouraged Aaron Burr looked on. Blue Dog Democrats everywhere should be spellchecking their resumes.
Already, they’re circling the wagons and trying to insulate themselves from the basic attitude toward governance which largely brought about the Brown victory in Massachusetts. Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb, for example, scrambled to get ahead of the curve in a press release within hours of the Coakley concession:
In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.
When Virginia went for Barack Obama in 2008, many inside and outside the beltway, Democrats and Republicans alike, believed that a historic shift had occurred. Webb, however, sees what Gilmore’s victory has already made obvious — the vote for a Democrat was an anomaly, not the norm. Webb knows that, in order to survive, he must throw caution to the wind, abandon party loyalty, and demonstrate without question that he hears the Tea Partiers.
And he most certainly will not be alone. Expect more Democrats, any responsible or even relatively alert left-leaning lawmakers with a modicum of common sense or just basic political self-preservation to do the same and jump ship like Webb has, but don’t expect a wholesale conversion. Some–like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid–are simply in too deep and far too beholden to the furthest reaches of the radical left to give up now. Others–especially people like Alan Grayson and the radical progressive wing of the Democratic Party–will never give up. If democracy fails them, they will find other options. Consider, for example, this quote from a commenter at The Daily Kos:
What we’re witnessing is the product of a corrupt media and a dumb, distractable electorate. I’m not sure that anything can be done at this point, but one thing I am sure of is that continuing to operate on the premise that the majority of Americans are reasonable, intelligent people who will do the right thing if the facts are presented to them objectively is not going to work. I know that it’s not what most people who come to this site want to hear, but most Americans need to be manipulated into doing the right thing. Reasoning with them might be the morally correct thing to do, but is simply not going to get the job done.
As of this midnight, the comment had a +7 rating from the DailyKos community, meaning that it rated far more favorably than unfavorably among that particular segment of the population. In the most highly-rated comment we could find (+73 as of midnight), a similar sentiment was expressed:
Hey, at least we can kick Lieberman out now. It’s time for his ass to get out of the caucus and for the rest of the party to grow some balls. Needing “60 votes” to do anything is a lame-ass, piss-poor excuse. It’s time to ram some shit through the Senate. If the GOP whines, fucking tough.
As we all know and as the Crocodile Hunter and Roy the Gay Magician will tell you, animals are most dangerous when they feel cornered or threatened, or both. Right now, Democrats have their backs up against a wall. The very position of power which put them into a situation from which nothing stood between them and the implementation of the agenda carefully shaped for decades has turned into the party’s own undoing — because even with control of the House, Senate and White House they have failed to heed the voices of the American people, failed to address the concerns currently facing a beleagured nation, failed to live up to their own pledges and faux principles, and failed to accomplish just about anything at all.
They pushed and pushed and pushed. They threatened to abandon all checks and balances and force civilization-shaping legislation through the halls, offices, corridors and chambers of Washington, D.C. in the dead of night. And like a battered wife who finally reaches deep down inside of herself for the inner strength necessary to stand up for herself and terminate the harmful relationship, the people of Massachusetts stood up on behalf of the American people, reached down within themselves, and pronounced with confidence and force of their own that they want a divorce. Enough is enough, they said. It’s time for the Democrats to pack their bags and go home. It’s time for the adults to once again be in charge.
Lessons For Republicans
The Democrats weren’t the only ones who received a lesson tonight. The Republican Party absolutely must stand up and take notice as well. In 2008, the GOP took the advice of The New York Times and ran a moderate Republican at best as its nominee for the presidential election, and we know how that turned out. And last year, when the party once again took the advice of The New York Times and ran a liberal in the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, it was disastrous as well. Defiant conservatives, weary of the GOP’s history of promoting candidates who ignored or overtly ran afoul of conservative principles, ran an independent instead who–despite serious handicaps–managed to force the machine candidate out of the race and put up a real fight against the Democrat.
That was the stick.
In Massachusetts, however, the Republican Party ran a real conservative. Actually, in Scott Brown, a man who is personally not pro-life but feels that the federal government has no business in the business of abortion, the party ran someone who by some conventional standards could be considered more libertarian than conservative. But they did so at a time when, because of the rising tide of governmental expansion, libertarianism has become the driving force behind the Tea Party movement and the resurgent GOP. As it turns out, there’s room for social liberals and conservatives in a movement that is centered on cutting the size of government above all else. Other essential issues–from national security to transparency and reform–either take a back seat to preserving the fiscal survival of this nation or are inherently incorporated in the debate over the proper size and role of government. And, when the GOP decided to work with rather than against the Tea Party, both sides won.
That was the carrot.
Over the next ten-plus months, as we move closer and closer to the mid-term elections in November, the mainstream media will inevitably attempt to fracture the American political right by playing to the budding egos of a long-marginalized, fledgling movement by talking up the prospects of the Tea Party as a viable third party. Last night showed us all that we don’t need a third party. We need the GOP to wake up, get back to its roots, and become the political vehicle of choice for those who align with a Jeffersonian and Madisonian perspective on government. We need a union of GOP and Tea Party, of libertarian and conservative, as we stand united to take back our country.
On December 16, 1773, The first Boston Tea Party put big government on notice that, in this nation, individual liberty and responsibility reign supreme. Yesterday, on January 19, 2010, Tea Party 2.0 is sending the exact same message. The American people are getting back to their roots, and it’s time for the parties–both parties, ideally–to get in line or get the Hell out of the way.
Lessons For Us All
Just as yesterday’s special election in Massachusetts taught a lesson to Democrats and Republicans, it offered a lesson for all of us as well. The lesson for each and every one of us is that, for too long, we’ve been turning our focus and focusing our attention on the wrong argument. We’ve become too caught up in labels. The dichotomy of Democrat vs. Republican and liberal vs. conservative simply doesn’t apply any more, at least not in the sense that so many people still believe it to. For every Democrat like Chuck Schumer, there’s a Zell Miller; for every Republican like Jim DeMint, there’s a Lindsay Graham.
Instead, the dichotomy to which we should all be paying closer attention is that of tyranny vs. anarchy. Obviously, like our nation’s founders we want neither, but also like those imperfect men we need to err on the side of limited federal government, of individual freedom, of an uninhibited free market.
That’s what the special election in Massachusetts, the very cradle of American liberty, was all about. It wasn’t about Scott Brown or Martha Coakley, about who could spell the state correctly or whether or not the candidates read the boxscores in the Boston Globe each morning. And given the design and plight of Massachusetts’ own attempt at universal healthcare, nor was yesterday’s election a referendum on the Democratic Party’s plans for health care reform alone. It wasn’t about any of those things — it was a referendum on the expanding size, scope, reach and role of the American federal government, a natural course correction like that described by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 28.
In Federalist No. 28, Hamilton wrote that the federal government may, from time to time, wield excessive power at the expense of the state governments and of the people, just as at other times the state governments may wield excessive power at the expense of the federal government and of the people. Hamilton proposed that either way, drought or deluge, feast or famine, the very nature of this great nation and its people will right a government listing in one direction or another.
If, as Hamilton suggested, the balance of power between the government and the people swings like a giant pendulum between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy, then the growing momentum toward the former was slowed and stopped by the twin Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia last November — and Scott Brown’s unlikely victory over Martha Coakley yesterday evening was most certainly the very first, essential push in the opposite direction, the right direction toward limited government, toward the growth, prosperity, safety and security which can never be provided by government alone.
The dwindling hours of January 19, 2010 proved to be a historic night for the United States of America. A little more than a year ago, an American president found his way into the Oval Office on nebulous promises of “hope” and “change.” Last night, in the very same state in which the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, America began to see a glimpse of freedom . . . for a change.