Saturday, January 23, 2010

Voters decide: end the partisanship

The loss this week in the senatorial race in Massachusetts of Democrat Martha Coakley by Republican Scott Brown, to replace the vacancy of Ted Kennedy, took a lot of people by surprise. Normally, in strongly left-leaning Massachusetts, a Republican victory wouldn't be at all likely. But starting in 2006 and becoming more pronounced in 2008, the political climate has become definite anti-incumbent territory. And though Ms. Coakley wasn't an incumbent, she was, however a Democrat, poised to claim a seat that had been held by a Democrat going back to at least 1933. And she was seen as the establishment figure. Moreover, the Washington establishment today is without question Democratic.

Of course Republicans are beside themselves with glee. They believe this is yet another sign of a huge comeback for them. And conservatives believe this is a mainstream backlash against rampant liberalism, and and a coming home to conservative "values".

While I think it would be correct to summarize this as a sign of a significant swing toward the Republicans in the mid-term elections this year, and while this is certainly a sign of growing dissatisfaction in the direction the Democrats are taking the country, conservatives are going to be in for a surprise thinking that folks have jumped onto the conservative ideology bandwagon. In short, dissatisfaction in the effectiveness of the two-party political machine is populist these days, not conservative/libertarian dogma.

Yes, the Democrats have been guilty of overreach. Just as the Republicans before them. And yes, the Democrats have been and will continue to be punished for this, just as the Republicans before them. No, the public hasn't forgotten who drove the country into this ditch. Nor are they convinced that the current drivers are capable of navigating us out of it.

Frank Avlon had an outstanding article over at the Daily Beast which summed much of this up better than I could. It is well-worth reading.

This excerpt sums it up:
"Independents have actually been consistent between 2006 and today. They are fiscal conservatives but liberal-to-libertarian on social issues. They are deficit hawks going back to at least Ross Perot’s independent campaign for the presidency in 1992. And they distrust the ideological arrogance and legislative overreach that tends to occur when one party controls both Congress and the White House. That was true under Bush and Tom DeLay and it's true under Obama and Nancy Pelosi today."

No comments: