Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Misreading The Tea Leaves

Results came in early in the special election for Senator in Mass Tuesday, and it appears that Scott Brown won handily by a margin of 52% to 47% and will take over the remainder of the term opened by the death of Sen Ted Kennedy. 

Many Republicans are already congratulating themselves on winning this seat and breaking the one party monopoly that has existed in the Federal government for the last year. Many Democrats have already cast Brown's opponent Martha Coakley under the bus for laziness and running a poor campaign, doing as Republicans did in 2008 and thus seeking a way to spin the loss. They are also already searching for a way to salvage some part of the legislative agenda still before Congress to satisfy their base, while properly positioning themselves for the upcoming 2010 elections. 

Before Republicans dislocate an arm or seek treatment for back bruises and Democrats spin anything too far however, they might want to take a closer look at these results. It's highly probable that this was neither a victory for the Republicans nor a defeat for the Democrats, but in fact simply the Independent voters of MA stepping up to speak their piece. 

According the the numbers in a USA Today story, the breakdown of registered voters in the state shows that Independents make up 51.2%, Democrats 37.1%, Republicans 11.4%, and Libertarians o.3%. One can only interpret this to mean that Brown's margin of victory must have included a significant amount of support by members of the opposing party or those not allied with either major party. 

Scott Brown seems to have understood the need for this, running his campaign on issues and principles rather than party affiliation. If Mr Brown showed any party affiliation in fact, it was with the "Tea Parties". He took their message of smaller government and reduced spending to heart and made their message his own, campaigning against many of the recent massive government programs either recently enacted or currently before Congress. He seemed to understand their righteous anger at both parties, and the politics of "business as usual" in government regardless of which party is in power. 

In spite of the fact that the seat had been assumed by professional political operatives to be a Democratic one, he instead called it both during the campaign and in his acceptance speech Tuesday night, "the people's seat". Unlike the Senator-elect from MA, there are many still out there both inside and outside the Washington DC beltway who have up until now misread the Tea Parties and their potential impact on future elections. They simply do not or cannot comprehend the righteous anger that exists in this country, was all too clearly displayed during Tea Party gatherings this summer, and may be beginning to bear fruit in these recent elections. 

And while it can be argued that there are those participating whose behavior was far from civil and whose message was framed poorly at best, what cannot be argued is that what we are seeing in this movement an attempt once again by angry citizens in this country today to insist on proper representation. Much like the Founding Fathers that they seek to emulate, they have taken to the streets and will not be satisfied until they see government in this country returned to the levels and limits established for it by the Constitution. 

Prior results in Virginia and New Jersey may have given some indication of what is happening, but the near future of politics may well have been clearly displayed in this MA election for those who are willing to see. It cannot be viewed however, in the way that most of the political pundits and operatives traditionally do. 

It's time to see that there are far more voters angry at the direction that this country has taken than either party seems ready to believe or understand. They are fed up with the "business as usual" of politics and affiliation with neither political party will provide protection for them. Neither will they support a candidate from either party who does not share this point of view. Those running for office here in NW Ohio might well take a lesson from Mr Brown's victory. Any politician expecting to be elected or re-elected had best take note of these signs, and not misread the tea leaves.


Roland Hansen said...

It seems to me that the (M)ASS Republican Party did little to promote the Brown candidacy. Perhaps Brown will be to the GOP what Lieberman is to the Dems.
Betwen the two of them, it just might be possible that they could mold things yet to come.

Tim Higgins said...


In this week of MLK day, perhaps I can be forgiven for paraphrasing:

"I have a dream that political candidates will one day run in a nation where they will not be judged by the name of their party, but by the content of their character."

Roland Hansen said...


I was a character, once. Some say I still am.

As the founder of the D.I.R.T. (Democrats, Independents, and Republicans Together) Club, I anxiously await the day for the general public to elect persons of integrity who wish only to be of service to our community and for the public to evaluate elected officials on merit rather than on political party or based on their own individual self-serving agendas.

Ben said...

I agree, it might not have been a huge win for Republicans...but it was a huge loss for the Democrats.

Ben said...

And it was awesome.