Lessons To Learn From
Martha Coakley's Loss
I'm not bragging but I can see into the future.
It's not hard, anyone can look into the future. I wish more people would do it and avert disaster. Politicians would rather use chaos to their advantage. The do so at their own peril.
By now everyone should have figured out that I'm not an expert on anything besides my own opinion. Granted, my opinion is based on 40 years of life experience and my quasi-obsession with the news in general and politics specifically. I also read more about the topics that fascinate me than a health person should. Many of my predictions turn out to be accurate by virtue of constantly putting myself out there and trying to get into the heads of other people, living outside myself as it were. Being empathetic to the fears and wants of retro's and non-retro's alike has given me the ability to guess what's likely to happen.
My guesses or observations are accurate because I look at what the vast majority of people want to be true, not at what I want to be real or what I alone want to happen. When I look at a particular situation and I listen to what people say when they call into conservative talk radio and liberal NPR, I'm able to gauge who wants "it" more. "It" meaning the outcome of an election or pending legislation. I have to be honest with myself and exclude my own political bias when trying to make predictions. The more impartial I am, the more accurate my predictions, like the now infamous "John Kerry Is Losing This Election: Here’s why," rant.
After Scott Brown won the special election in Massachusetts Tuesday, I went back and re-read that rant about John Kerry. One of the things that stood out for me the most was the notion that if Martha Coakley had learned the lessons of John Kerry's campaign, she would have won. The same mistakes one made, the other candidate repeated in spades.
So the question remains - what could the next Democrat (or even Republican and Third-Party) candidate learn from the U.S. Senate race to fill the seat once occupied by Ted Kennedy?
Lesson Number 1 - Never Take Anything For Granted.
This is the most important rule, and from it all others spring forth...
Martha Coakley did something that not even Ted Kennedy would have done - she took the Mass voters for granted and she ran on the platform of "I'm next because I'm entitled." She was the Bob Dole of this decade, thinking that because she paid her dues to the liberal party machine she would have been anointed and yesterday was going to be her coronation ceremony.
Martha Coakley had behavior that was a suicidal mixture of arrogance, ignorance, and entitlement. She took the entire month off in December to celebrate the holidays and take a vacation while her opponent Scott Brown who was trailing in double digits worked the crowds at the rallies and spoke on various talk radio shows throughout his state. He spoke from the heart and said what he really meant, not always what people wanted to hear. The few times I heard him on 96.9FM Talk out of Boston, he said a few things that rubbed me the wrong way - but to me it was clear that he wasn't working off a rehearsed script.
You never take anyone for granted. When that happens you're sending out the message that you're more important than the people you rely on and need to get what you want, or those who will take you where you want to go.
Republicans also have to learn something from this message - don't take the voter's discontent against Democrats for granted. Just because Scott Brown won a huge victory this week doesn't mean they'll ride in on his coat tales. Nothing is certain.
Lesson Number 2: Sometimes People Deserve To Lose...
This might seem repetitive or a continuation from the first. I might not be articulate enough to explain why they are so different.
Martha Coakley deserved to lose. There is no denying that. She was a horrible candidate just as she was a horrible AG in Mass, most notably when she prosecuted a dad who hit the child rapist who was assaulting his son in a Market Basket bathroom. The child rapist walked while the dad who was defending his son was prosecuted. Nobody forgot that.
Another huge blunder that cost her the senatorial election - the gaff about how Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling was just another Yankee's fan during an interview with WBZ's Dan Rea on his 8 - 10 PM show. She didn't even know that Mr. Schilling was the pitcher for the team that won that franchise's first World Series Pennant in decades? There's something's that every politician from the region should know - and since The World Series Champions are so important to locals, that's one of those things that everyone has to have down cold.
Coakley also ran a dirty campaign with misleading, negative ads against her opponent while simultaneously not saying enough about what she would do for her state and The United States if she won Ted Kennedy's old seat. Besides "passing health care," what other goals did she have? What else did she want to do besides "attack Wall Street?"
What was her platform? What else did she have to say about herself and the state of the country?
Also, as a blatant attempt to recapture the animosity magic Barack Obama ran and won on, she evoked the name of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as if those two were still the President and Vice President. She kept reminding everyone in all of her adds that her opponent was a "Republican." He's a 'republican!' Scott Brown is one of 'them!'
He's a Republican! He's a Republican! He's a Republican! He's a Republican! As if because of that reason alone he should lose? Because he's your opponent and so naturally he's a republican. If you're a democrat then all republicans are simply evil? Thus if you're a republican then naturally all democrats are also "evil?" Part of Obama's Hope and Change was supposed to be healing this divide.
Also she only called upon the current President (Obama, if you hadn't heard by now...) for help when it was obviously too late and she was behind in all the major polls? How did that strategy work out?
Scott Brown's win isn't a major victory for all Republicans. It doesn't mean that this is a harbinger of death for liberals or democrats 10 months from now. Anything can happen between now and November. Which brings me to...
Lesson Number 3: In The Political Universe - A Year Is An Eternity
A year to the day Barack Obama took the oath of office as President Of The United States, Scott Brown did what everyone else thought was impossible by taking the Senate Seat in what everyone thought was a "Stronghold" state for the Democrats.
AA year ago, everyone guessed that the end of modern conservatives was dead. If it weren't dying it was mortally wounded and would soon be a thing of the past. Newsweek even published a cover with the phrase: "We Are All Socialists Now" for reasons I'm not sure I totally understand and proved to be premature.
It was perhaps the worst phrase ever published by an American publication until Newsweek's very own Steve Daly wrote the words "There's a Vulcan In the White House" in an April 2009 article for that publication. If you can call it that... but I digress.
None of us could have imagined a year ago that the seat held by The Lion Of The Senate Ted Kennedy would be lost to a member of the party he opposed since he took it over from his brother, John. Nobody would have guessed that a more charismatic yet lesser known state senator like Republican Scott Brown could sweep in and take that chair so soon after his party suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat 12 months ago.
IIn the world of politics, a lot can change in just a few months. National and world events can change public opinion swiftly and the pendulum can snap pack in the opposite direction even before it's reached it's apogee on the other side.
Paradigm Shifts and political movements that have taken years or even decades to accomplish something can be undone in a heart beat as events and unforeseen consequences make people stop and think about what's really going on. Often it seems easier for a whole group to change it's collective mind then it does for one stubborn person living alone with nothing else besides the constant drone of a one sided media outlet.
Anything can and does happen in short periods of time in bursts of chaos and concerns for the future. Which brings me to Number 4.
Lesson Number 4: The Desire And The Will For Change Is An Impossible Force To Restrain.
MMaybe it's time a lot of us come to terms with the fact that maybe this is all about the Change we were talking about throughout 2008. That people are clamoring for something different. Anything that resembles change will suffice. This isn't just about the inevitable change like Dubya and Cheney leaving the White House. Because of the 22nd Amendment they were required to do that any way.
No, this is about the real change that people talked around, but never really talked about. Sometimes some people are in power for way too long and become complacent. The particular flavor of Democratic leadership had been in charge of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and been sending the same-old same-old to Washington and nothing seems to be changing for the better yet.
I have to insist that Scott Brown's win was a victory for the un-incumbent movement that we've been talking about for ages. Anyone who has been in office for the past few years who we can blame for the Financial Melt-Down we've been enduring and suffering through will get blamed. That means anyone of any party that's been in office. That also means anyone who is of the "Old Guard." That person in this race was Martha Coakley, entrenched in the establishment.
People want something different. The debate between Democrats VS Republicans reminds me of the stupid debates on which was better, Coke or Pepsi. The fact is, they're both cola, one with a little more sugar, the other with just a little more fizz. Neither are good for you in large servings for extended period of time. People sick of "Cola" and want something better.
People are clamoring for change that's indefinable, none of us can put our finger on exactly what it is, or agree on what it should be. There's this intangible need that's desperate. That desperation is causing many of us to rethink our long held beliefs and take a running jump into untried and often scary directions. But the direction we've been on is even more frightening.
Once it became possible that "change" could happen in Massachusetts it became a runaway freight-train that managed to stay on the tracks. No external force could stop it or slow it down.
The questions I have now are these- what would the face of government look like after all of the incumbents were expelled and no "stronghold" state remained. They all become battleground states and every campaign in this mid-term cycle is fought just as hard? What is this radical change going to look like after all the dust settles by January of 2011?
How much change is too much? Or worse - how much isn't enough?
What do you think we should have learned from this election?