Scott Brown won the Senate seat. ”Huzzah and hurray,” say the Republicans, “we’re once again relevant!” Of course, they’ve been building to this moment for a year, ever since the White House was unduly upset from their hands and into a historically black President. Meanwhile, Democrats are going nuts, or so I’m told. I haven’t been able to care enough to check on that myself.
You see, I barely did any research on this whole Coakley/Brown affair. To be quite honest, no one really made a fuss on my Twitter stream until about two days ago; and, since I’ve become quite disillusioned with our system of government, I only read the news when it’s slapping me in the face. However, since it tossed everyone into such a tizzy tonight, I finally looked Scott Brown up on Wikipedia to see what kind of sack of crap America had bought itself this time (Libertarian-flavored, it turns out).*
About halfway down the page, I noticed a mention of a campaign ad where the Democratic candidate slammed (perhaps inaccurately) her challenger on a bill he proposed in “Massachussetes.” That, right there, told me everything I needed to know about the campaign. Well, that and the fact that, with the election squarely in her pocket (MA is a blue state, after all), she took a week off to let her opponent build up steam. Democrats lost this like they lost 2004′s run for President: sheer and utter stupidity.
I’d bemoan this, but it’s just par for the course these days. Democrats had a chance to tell conservatives to take their unsustainable tax cuts and shove them, and to give the country a chance at bona fide health care for people within our borders who desperately need it. Instead, they wandered from topic to topic, and after some loony bins started being meanie poo-poo heads and acting like 5-year-olds at town halls and no one could muster up a single “shut the fuck up you crazy S.O.B., I’m talking,” they got scared and backed down. Again.
I was a political idealist, once upon a time. I thought that one of the two extremes, with enough sanity and moderation, could make things work in this country. If conservatives gained a stronghold, we’d have a smaller government with fewer taxes, but fewer programs to suck the revenue stream dry. That’s not my choice, I’d rather help people with government than give them the finger and say “not my problem,” but that’d require higher taxes. Both ideas have merit, if you take into account the need for someone to balance the books at the end of the day.
But when we had conservatives in charge, we got fear. We got tax cuts and explosions in spending. We got a social agenda that looked like it longed for the pure and holy days where sinful acts like interracial dating were beaten out of people. We got imperialism run amok, miring us in wars that we had no business starting. I’d say more about the conservative years, but I think people blogged it to death just fine without me.
Then, the glorious hope from the heavens came. 2006: the great big upset. For the first time in 12 years, congress was a bright and shining blue. But we got nothing. 2 years of hand-wringing and complaining and the best we could get is blame on the fact that they couldn’t override a veto on Bush, they just didn’t have the numbers. Thank whatever gods you like, then, that Barack Obama, the Champion of Change, swooped in. After battling Hillary for Prom Queen for a year, he took Pennsylvania Avenue by storm.
But we got nothing. Again.
Some liberal pundits talk about how much Barack Obama has done. Maybe it’s more like Snow Leopard was to Mac OS X: it’s all under the hood. But we aren’t treated to rousing speeches anymore. We’re treated to meetings with the opposition, to see if maybe they’ll sell their agenda up the creek for tea and cookies. Democrats didn’t learn from the other side of the aisle: you take the power you’ve got and you ram through your agenda, and you don’t care if half the country disagrees with you. You won’t win them over with passionate pleas of “can’t we all just get along.” You win them over by beating them and trumpeting the success of that which they didn’t support.
Of course, the core will never believe you. But the people on the edges, the ones swaying on the fence, they can be won over by success. They’ll never be won over by cowardice. And that brings us to tonight. After a barely-fought and not-really-particularly-contested fight for Massachusetts, Democrats lost the ability to block a filibuster (if they ever had it). At this point, it hardly seems like the agenda will change at all. Things that wouldn’t come to a vote before will still manage not to come to a vote.
The future does look more grim, though. The political pendulum doesn’t seem to have stayed very long on the left. If all that happens is fiscal conservatism, I’ll call us all lucky. But I don’t foresee that. The talking heads warning us of ever-impending doom and war, against the world and against each other, are still out there. Some espouse libertarian ideals of social responsibility and fiscal conservatism, but most are willing to stoke the fires that burn us the most. I don’t want another world where I have to fear what my government is willing to do to me to safeguard against largely phantasmal enemies at the gate, but if Democrats don’t shape up and grow a pair, that’s where we’re headed.
* Note that I’m not saying conservatives are sacks of crap. Politicians are sacks of crap.