Thursday, January 7, 2010

The First Test of 2010

Believe it or not, the first election of 2010 is just around the corner. On January 19, citizens of Massachusetts will select a senator to succeed the late Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts senator for 47 years.

In the special election, state Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, is narrowing the lead held by the Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley. A Rasmussen poll from January 5 puts the gap at only 9 percentage points. This in itself is notable since Massachusetts is a dark blue state that is heavily Democratic. Senator Kennedy won 69% of the vote in his last campaign in 2006. Obama carried the state with 62% of the vote [1].

The close (by Massachusetts standards) race may be an early indication of a bad year for Democrats. If so, this will continue a trend that began in 2009 as moderate and independent voters began to desert the Democratic Party in droves. The Democrats lost the gubernatorial race in Virginia by a wide margin and by a closer margin in New Jersey. The sole good electoral news for the Democrats was the retention of the New York 23rd congressional district after the Republican candidate dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat. Even then, Democrat Bill Owens only bested Conservative Party challenger Doug Hoffman by 3% of the vote.

Since the election of Barack Obama, the fortunes of the Democratic Party have taken a turn for the worse. Amid widespread opposition, the stimulus bill was passed, but has not brought about the promised economic recovery. Costly bailouts of banks and auto manufacturers stoked voter anger as the deficit and national debt reached record-breaking proportions.

But what has probably angered voters the most is the Democratic insistence on passing a government takeover of the healthcare industry in spite of dwindling support and fiery opposition. Voters simply do not believe President Obama’s claims that the healthcare reform bill will be revenue-neutral. Most voters believe that the reform bill will increase the cost and decrease the quality of healthcare [6]. The arrogance of the Democrats who insist on ramming through and increasingly unpopular and unworkable plan is driving a growing voter revolt against Democrat rule.

The problem for the Democrats is also evident in the growing numbers of Democrats who are deciding not to run for re-election. The latest retiring Democrats are Senators Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan. Senator Dodd had a prominent role in the financial crisis as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and an opponent of Bush-era legislation that would have reformed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac… before their holdings of subprime mortgages imploded [9]. Both Dodd and Dorgan faced strong Republican opposition.

Scott Brown may not win Senator Kennedy’s seat. Massachusetts is a hard place for a Republican to win. Even a strong showing in a loss could signal a very difficult year for Democrats. A win for Republicans could be disastrous for the Democrats. The Democratic majority in the senate is razor thin. A loss of a single seat will mean the loss of the ability to stop a Republican filibuster. If Brown takes office before the healthcare bill is passed, he could be the vote that preserves private healthcare in the United States.

Additionally, Brown exemplifies the differences between Democrats and Republicans on a host of other issues. He stands for lower taxes and stands in opposition to gay marriage, which is legal in Massachusetts. He opposes cap-and-trade energy taxes, which would likely be next on the Democratic agenda after the healthcare reform bill is passed. Rarely in our history have the two parties held such widely different views of what the course for America should be.

The stakes are very high. I encourage anyone who opposes the government takeover of healthcare to make a contribution to Scott Brown’s Massachusetts senate campaign. There is still time to make a difference. This time, let’s make a change for the better.
200 Reservoir St.
Needham MA 02494


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