I think the defeat in Massachusetts last night can be summed up thusly: Democrats largely did it to themselves.
I’m going through as many features of this stunning loss as I can. Call it therapy or action review or whatever else you want, here are some of the things running through my head today.
Coakley didn’t campaign and took time off. Brown didn’t.
Brown and the Republicans wisely co-opted the message that swept large numbers of Democrats into office in 2008: change. He will actually represent the powerful corporate interests that most Republicans do, but was able to basically sneak into office by running on change unopposed by Coakley.
Obama didn’t push for his agenda in 2009 – how many months did the health care reform debate take to turn into the Corporate Insurance Giveaway? Wall St. got bailed out while 7 million people have lost their jobs in the past few years. The examples go on and on. Will he fight for the people in 2010? Or does he want to see how much of his agenda can be accomplished while the Cons control Congress?
Obama’s, Reid’s and Baucus’ reach for bipartisanship, which has become as mythical as the “center” and “60 votes”, needs to end. Obama in particular needs to articulate the times in which he reached out to the Cons, only to have his hand chopped off by them in return. Call the Cons out daily if need be. The Cons will either refuse to bargain in good faith and look like fools or one at a time they will decide to work with the Dems instead of lose their jobs.
Democrats have been accessories the the Cons’ abuse of the filibuster rule. Dems need to end the rule of 60 votes or start planning for how they plan on filibustering things as the minority party in 2011.
DNC, DSCC: where were they? Put another way – does anyone seriously think the result of the MA Senate race would have been the same had Howard Dean remained chairman of the DNC? Where are the hard questions for Tim Kaine and Robert Menendez? Losing a Democratic Senate seat in MA is like losing a Con Senate seat in AL – it takes a special set of screw-ups to achieve it.
Tea-baggers have their first major political victory. It took netroots progressives much longer to achieve the same thing. This observation is a very sobering one.
Betsy Markey gets it. She sent out an email that did more explaining of the dangers tea-baggers pose to CO than any other candidate I’ve seen in 2010. That email was not the first one this cycle she’s issued doing so, either. You know why she gets it? Because she knows her seat isn’t safe. She knows the right-wing extremist tea-baggers are gunning hard for her seat. Hopefully her recognizance of this disgusting phenomenon helps to motivate her base.
Cons play for keeps, Dems worry about who they’re going to offend.
MA voters will have buyer’s remorse as badly as CT’ voters do. That doesn’t help them or us – look at what progressives’ failure to knock Joe out in 2006 has done to our agenda today. But progressives need to play harder for keeps in every race across the country. That’s what Dean’s successful 50-state strategy was all about.
Dems: solidify your base. I can’t say this enough.
My message to every single Democrat in Colorado, no matter if it’s a primary or general election: pay attention to what your Democratic constituents want. The things they want are the things a majority of Americans want – on every issue across the board. If you chase the mythical center or mythical bipartisanship, you will lose your election.
John Hickenlooper should learn this lesson quickly if he really wants to move up the political ladder. After trying to sound Republican-lite yesterday (I’ll have much more on this later), the Republicans slapped him around anyway. Given the choice between a fake Republican and a real Con, voters will elect the real Con every time. Be a Democrat and you’ll reap the rewards of doing so.
Democrats had better look deeply into the discontent that Americans are expressing. It’s not due to “radical shifts to the left”, as the concern troll Cons would have them believe. It’s because they haven’t stood up for Americans now that they have the reins of power again.
Cross-posted at SquareState.