Associated Press and Reuters photos
Democratic Party heavyweights like Bill Clinton and John Kerry have campaigned for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to succeed the late Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. Her defeat in the special election for Kennedy’s seat on Tuesday would be an embarrassing blow to the party.
In the photos that I’ve seen of her, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who as the Democrats’ hand-picked would-be successor to the late Ted Kennedy is in a tight special election to fill Kennedy’s seat on Tuesday, looks nice enough. Nice enough that I gave her $10, even though I live on the Left Coast, in California. (It was U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s fundraising e-mail that induced me to give her any money at all, as I like Al.)
But I can’t help but wonder, as the fundraising e-mails for Coakley flood my two e-mail addresses’ inboxes, why the special election is so tight.
Ted Kennedy served in the U.S. Senate for Massachusetts from November 1962 to his death in August — longer than I’ve been on the planet, and I’ve been on the planet for a little more than four decades.
John Kerry, the now-senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has been in the Senate since January 1985 — for 25 years now.
Could it be that the Democrats have taken the Democratic votes of the people of Massachusetts for granted for waaay too fucking long now?
Could that be why the Dems need to scramble now to ensure that they don’t see an embarrassing defeat on Tuesday — because (at least in Massachusetts) they got too cocky, too complacent, too sure of themselves?
For the most part, no, I don’t want to see Coakley lose on Tuesday. I know how the mainstream media love to spin just one fucking election result: COAKLEY LOSES TED KENNEDY’S SEAT! THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS DEAD! It’s not accurate, but it’s dramatic and sensationalistic, so that’s how the media handle shit like that, and people who don’t know any better then parrot it.
Nor by a Coakley defeat do I want the Repugnicans to feel emboldened going into the 2010 mid-term elections. After a Coakley defeat the mainstream media headlines would say that, too: NATION SWINGS BACK TO THE GOP!
But what if Coakley’s defeat would make the Democratic Party stop taking its base for granted?
For years now the Democratic Party has been great about hitting its supporters up for $$$, but not so great about actually delivering upon its promises in exchange for that $$$. We’ve given the Democratic Party a lot of our change, but we haven’t seen much of that promised change in return.
If Coakley’s defeat would make the Democrats actually start delivering the promised hope and change, then maybe her defeat would be worth it.
Still, again, I am cautious to assert that apparent voter discontent in Massachusetts is indicative of the national sentiment more than it actually is. I think that the mainstream mass media and mainstream-mass-media-consuming Americans in general tend to assert incorrectly that a regional or local election is indicative of a national trend.
Still, I love what 2004 Democratic presidential contender and former Democratic Party head (February 2005-January 2009) Howard Dean has to say about what’s going on right now. Reports The Associated Press today:
Washington – The ill winds of an angry electorate are blowing against Democrats, the warning signs clear in a closer-than-expected Massachusetts [U.S.] Senate race that may doom President Barack Obama’s health care agenda and foreshadow the party’s election prospects this fall.
[Again, I disagree that Massachusetts necessarily reflects the national mood; I could be that the voters of Massachusetts are just sick and tired of having the same political dysnasty, including its hand-picked successors like Coakley, running the show for several decades now.]
Anti-incumbent, anti-establishment sentiment is rampant. Independents are leaving Obama. Republicans are energized. Democrats are subdued. None of it bodes well for the party in power.
“It’s going to be a hard November for Democrats,” Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman in the 2006 and 2008 elections when the party took control of the White House and Congress, told The Associated Press in an interview. “Our base is demoralized.” [Emphasis mine.]
While he praised Obama as a good president, Dean said the Democrat hasn’t turned out to be the “change agent” the party thought it elected, and voters who supported Democrats in back-to-back elections now are turned off. Said Dean: “They really thought the revolution was at hand but it wasn’t, and now they’re getting the back of the hand.” [Emphasis mine.] …
Oh, shit, Howie, tell us how you really feel!
But seriously, I appreciate Howard Dean’s candor. Democratic Party hacks — you know, the fucktards who can defend even Billary Clinton, just because Billary calls itself a “Democrat” — will blast Dean for stating that President Barack Obama hasn’t been the “change agent” that he promised to be, but fuck, Dean was only speaking the obvious truth.
I really have to wonder now if Dean — who no doubt is deeply disappointed that Obama campaigned for the White House like a Howard Dean but now is presiding like a Billary Clinton — is angling for another run at the presidency.
You know, when Dean was head of the Democratic Party, the party did retake first the U.S. House of Representatives (giving us the nation’s first female speaker of the House), the U.S. Senate, the majority of the governorships and the majority of the state legislatures in 2006, and then retook the White House in 2008, while increasing its majorities in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate as well.
That’s not bad!
The Democratic Party hacks who oppose Dean might actually claim that the nation was going that way anyway, but I give Dean the credit where the credit is due; God knows that the clueless establishmentarian, Billary-lovin’ Democrats couldn’t have done it on their own.
Should Dean actually oppose Obama in 2012 — an unlikely but not impossible scenario — then Dean has my support. If not in 2012, then maybe in 2016.
In the meantime, Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts should prove to be interesting.