Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh Massachusetts!

Oh Massachusetts! The seemingly blue state! However, on Tuesday January 19, the people of Massachusetts decided to vote a different way; they decided to vote for change…again. So, the candidates were R-Scott Brown and D-Martha Coakley. I found it odd that the seat the late Edward Kennedy filled for almost half a century is now held by a Republican, however that’s how politics works. To quote a TV show, “no one owns a Senate seat.” If you want to keep it you have to work hard for it and the political winds have to be just right (however the incumbent does have an advantage, usually).

Anyway, what does this signify? Well, if you’re a Republican it means your party is doing something right, it’s coming back, and finally Democrats will have to listen and take into consideration your ideas. You also will take any chance you get to say it has to do with Obama and shows his political future. For a Republican, this is game changing. If you’re a Democrat you’re trying to keep it from touching on the President, meaning it doesn’t foreshadow anything for Obama in the future. Also, you might feel some of your agenda will be centralized and you are definitely feeling wan from a fall from power. I suppose your front is it’s no big deal, but you might be panicking a bit on the inside?

The facts: Democrats don’t have that 60, that impenetrable number, to override filibusters (a filibuster is when a member talks, reads, etc. for a certain amount of time in order to “back up” the Senate and then a cloture vote is called for, where 60 votes ends it. More details: Republicans have been very much on the defensive this past year about Healthcare reform, etc. and this was mainly because the Democrats had the 60 votes and they didn’t need Republicans for anything, so excluding them was best. Now, Harry Reid WILL have to change his strategy. He didn’t really try to reach out to any of the Republicans in the end, even Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins who were open to working with him and were very much centrist on the ideas proposed. Gosh, now he’ll have to deal with the very conservative Republicans as well. I’m sorry Mr. Reid but the way you’ve been doing things is going to have to change it will be a very bumpy ride. Republican ideas will have to be present in the bill to get some votes. And there are just some Republicans who won’t be won over. I either foresee some Republicans really being listened to and trying to work with the Democrats or I see stubbornness on both sides, which will make it impossible to accomplish anything. I am planning for the latter and hoping for the former.

Other possible effects: We can only guess at what this means for the President. Some say it’s an indicator of where people think his government is going and they don’t like it, and other’s think you can’t really apply what’s happening in one state to the whole of the Presidency. I think it may be both. I feel like people turned up to vote and wanted this change because they didn’t like where the Healthcare Bill was going (especially the December vote) and were scared of what cap and trade would do to their small businesses, and maybe didn’t want new taxes. All of this is controlled by who wins that Senate seat, and that’s now Scott Brown. Also, we can’t look at this and say Obama is finished. Not everyone feels the same way about him like the people in Massachusetts do. Some people love what he’s doing and some people hate it so it’s hard to get an accurate read on where he’s going.

How did this happen? It looks like a combination of a lot of things. Coakley had one thing going for her; it was Ted Kennedy’s seat and therefore people might think it just “belongs” to a Democrat. However, that may have also hurt her because if people think that and don’t want the seat to go to a Democrat then they will have even more incentive to go to the polls and vote. I think the “60 vote” mentality of the Senate contributed to Coakley’s downfall because people felt ignored, excluded, horrified, etc. at what was getting passed and wanted to put a stop to it. Part of this comes from Republicans not being listened to because not one Republican voted for the Healthcare Bill in December and that looks bad and I think people were turned off by it. Also, having Obama endorse her (Coakley) might have backfired just a bit. She thought he would change people’s minds and he didn’t; so basically she counted on him changing people’s minds too much.

I just think it was a time for change. I feel that maybe the Democrats were getting too lax on the Healthcare Bill by not trying to appeal to both sides of the aisle. I think this challenge will produce a better and more accepted Healthcare Bill, if one gets passed. It all depends on how well the Republicans and Democrats can work with each other for a common goal. This should be interesting.

My sources:


Anya is horrified, but morbidly intrigued to see how this plays out. I do know it will mean a very centrist healthcare bill, far less liberal than I would have liked. Hopefully more bills will have bipartisan support now while still making the sweeping reforms we need. Congrats to Ashley on a very well written post :)

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