Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Conservatives Win; Progressives Whine: How progressives handed conservatives a win in Massachusetts

I've never been so depressed by the results of a another state's election of someone to the U.S. Senate. Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Oakley for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. Brown ran on his party's platform--he opposed gun control, tax increases, gay marriage, and partial-birth abortion and supported waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists. He also promised to be the "41st vote" against the health care reform bill now in Congress. Coakley ran on her party's platform as well--she supported the Democratic health care bill, abortion rights, gay marriage, and climate change legislation with a "cap-and-trade" mechanism. However, she opposed Obama's planned troop increase in Afghanistan.

The one point on which I agree with the commenters following the news story that I just read is that Brown's victory is evidence that a lot of people oppose health care reform or Obama care as they like to call it. Indeed, they oppose President Obama's agenda in its entirety. Perhaps that's why I still think that getting some version of health care reform is the right thing to do. Too many rightwingers oppose even the flawed Senate version of the legislation for the bill to be totally without merit. The right doesn't want this bill passed. Looks as if they may get their wish.

I don't believe that the right is responsible for this loss of a senate seat; I think that fault rests squarely on the backs of the progressive left. We refuse to understand the political game. We whine like spoiled children and clamor for instant results. When we don't get everything that we want in the first battle, we declare that our leadership has betrayed us.

One thing that the right consistently has is solidarity. No matter how whacko some of its members are--Palin, Beck, Limbaugh--they never publicly turn on them. On the other hand, progressive liberals have been quick to attack every decision made by Obama that doesn't fit with the progressive agenda, which only helps to feed the anti-adminsitration fervor of the conservative right.

The right never publicly abandoned former president George W. Bush even after he led us into multiple non-declared wars,, increased the deficit by trillions, and set into motion the events that would lead to the largest bailout in U.S. history. On the other hand, the progressive left whines and stomps its feet because Obama won't just paddle Joe Lieberman and any other recalcitrant Democrat. We scream for Obama to shove health care reform through even though the office of the president does not wield that sort of power under our system of government. There is still this little document known as the Constitution which clearly provides that there are three branches of government and delineates the power of each. Behind the scenes negotiations and compromises take place because that's the way it was designed to be. If we want to change it, a constitutional amendment is needed. It's not an impossible task but it's not a simple one either. Neither Obama nor his staff can simply circumvent procedures. There is no authority that permits the president or his staff to  threaten difficult  Senators to get them to vote for the president's agenda.

The progressive left has been busy publicly criticizing the administration, forgetting the adage that a house divided among itself cannot stand. Meanwhile, the right has been moving in lockstep. How else to explain Brown's win in a state in which Obama won by a 26 point margin in 2008 and that elected perhaps the most liberal senator ever to seve nine terms? I am depressed but not because the conservative right has won a victory but because the progressive left handed it to them gift wrapped.


Anonymous said...

Every why has a wherefore.........................................

Ms. Moon said...

I am stunned and I agree with your assessment. I'm just speechless.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm with you, my friend. As usual, I agree wholeheartedly.



Nance said...

If it's okay with you, I'm gonna just blog today with "What she said."

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

One other thing that may have played into this is that Massachuesetts already has healthcare reform, there is nothing but more cost for them in a national bill (supporting other states). It will be interesting to see if the Democrats scatter and become every person for themselves, or find a way to stay together.

warrior scout said...

hmmm... i hear your frustration- and share it.. but, as is my way, i wonder what good will come of this... i think quite a lot actually... we have a chance to get it done more thoughtfully on the front end.

Mark said...

I just so disagree with you on this one. Obama and the democrats should never have given away the store on the Healthcare bill, the fault lies squarely on his unrealistic and never-going-to-happen insistence on a mythical "bipartisanship." We needed Lyndon Johnson style arm-twisting, George Bush style reconciliation arrogance, not a bill so compromised everyone can find something to hate.
The progressive left was not responsible for Coakley's assumptions, and not responsible for how many idiots, even in Massachusetts, watch Fox news and believe it.
Obama needs to start acting like leader and kicking some butt. This is a also an opportunity to sit back and call the Republicans bluff. Ask they what they propose and then shine a lot on the deafening silence. He's letting them get away with being the party of No. Grow some cojones, Barack. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Be a proud liberal instead of an apologetic centrist.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

My position is somewhere between your's and Mark's (if that's possible). I think that those voters in Massachusetts who did not fall solidly in either camp were angered by the action of Senate Democrats in two ways. Yes, they were angered by their refusal to use their political power by employing perfectly legal and traditional procedures. (Since when was forty-one a larger number than fifty-nine?) They wanted them to stand on their hind legs for what they believe in. At the same time, they were angry and sickened by the deal cutting by people like Democratic Senator Ben Nelson; i.e., just more business as usual. In an amazing tactical blunder, Senate Democrats ceded the moral high ground and the military high ground of the political battlefield simultaneously.

I would love to hear your response to a question I've asked elsewhere: "What would happen if Senate Democrats MADE the Republicans actually use the filibuster to kill a decent health care bill? (Perhaps a bill without the pork, but with a public option.)

How would the country respond if they saw the Republicans reading the phone book day after day to kill health care reform?