No one saw it coming. In fact, a Republican victory for the open U.S. Senate seat was no where on the radar. Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in our union. The seat was filled by Edward Kennedy for 47 years. But last night, the seemingly impossible occurred: a Republican, Scott Brown, was elected.
There is no doubt Scott Brown ran a good campaign. But ultimately, he won the seat because of what the national Democrat leaders were doing in Washington. His opponent, Coakley, held an overwhelming lead just over a month ago. But 2 key events in Washington sunk her bid at winning the seat vacated by Kennedy:
(1) In an effort to quickly push through the Democrats’ healthcare plan, Harry Reid bought the votes of two senators, Louisiana’s Landrieu and Nebraska’s Nelson.
(2) The Democrats decided it was better to work out the details of the healthcare bill in secrecy, behind closed doors, rather than with the cameras of C-Span rolling. In other words, they refused to take the course Obama campaigned on regarding the healthcare debate: openness and transparency.
To summarize, the Democrats beat themselves. Through their acts of bribery and secrecy, they ended up dooming Coakley’s campaign, and thus lost their treasured 60 seats and blew their chance at reforming healthcare…for now.
Many conservative pundits will say that last night’s victory was a defeat over healthcare reform. Not so. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans think something must be done about our healthcare costs. Something will be done eventually. Americans want change, just not too much too fast. Which is what the Democrats tried to achieve.
So what is it about then? It’s about trust. And trust is earned through solid character. America has about 40% of the population that is decidedly conservative. Another 40% or so is decidedly liberal. But a middle 20% can go either direction. The way the Republican leadership handled Iraq brought about a mood of distrust toward the Republican leadership, leading to the massive electoral changes of 2008. That middle 20% of America decided to give the Democrats a chance for “change.” But now the Democratic party is losing trust even more rapidly with the way they have handled healthcare reform.
I expect last night’s election will indeed be a harbinger of a massive shift back toward Republican control of the house and Senate. The question is, will the Republicans learn from the recent pattern? Will the Republicans earn and keep America’s trust by operating with character?
What this country needs is not just accomplished, skilled, and discerning politicians. We also need them to be men and women of sterling character, who don’t just say whatever it takes to get elected and then do whatever they want when they get into office. We need representatives who say what they are going to do and then do what they said they would do.