21 January 2010


As I’m sure you've heard, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts just voted against Ted Kennedy’s health care reform and all of his lifelong values to elect a white Republican male nobody knows to sit in his seat for the next two years, longer if he’s re-elected.

Okay, I volunteered for Martha Coakley. I gave her money. She’s a great person and a strong, experienced public servant. To the extent that Massachusetts seems unable to elect a woman to our highest state and federal offices, this is about the Attorney General. She and her campaign made mistakes, as did Brown and every other candidate who’s ever run for office. We just don’t forgive any mistakes from a woman candidate in Massachusetts.

Mostly, though, this election is about the voters of the Commonwealth. With whom, frankly, I am disgusted.

Some voters swallowed the right-wing fiction that Martha Coakely, a renowned prosecutor, an Attorney General for heaven’s sake, would be weak on terrorists. Perhaps these people don’t believe anymore in the rule of law.

Some voters bought the picture of Scott Brown as just your average guy. He’s about as average a guy—in terms of family income, education, social class and celebrity –status daughter and wife—as George W. Bush was when he won the Presidency by successfully spinning himself as another “average” guy.

Hard to believe that Massachusetts voters could still fall for that kind of absurdity after all we’ve seen in the 8 years of the Bush presidency. Maybe they thought, well, shucks it wasn’t true about W. but it must be true about good old Scott. He wears a corduroy jacket and drives a pick-up truck, after all. (Ever wonder why men who don’t work in construction drive pick-up trucks?)

Other voters chose Brown because they were angry with President Obama who hasn’t fixed the country yet. Yes, Bush had 8 years to get us mired in this mess, but Obama has had a whole year already and he’s made some mistakes and he hasn’t solved our problems. After a whole year!

What’s that? You send a message in a democracy by writing your congressional reps and senators and the President himself, by making phone calls or sending emails or visiting their offices? No, no. Too much work. Much better to use your most precious asset as a citizen—your vote—to elect someone to national office for years who doesn’t agree with you on most of your own key issues. That’ll show Obama.

And all those other people in the country? The ones who may not have health care because you just doomed real reform? Or the people in countries around the world watching this election and wondering what on earth Americans are thinking and might do next, the countries that were so relieved when we voted in a Democratic President, the ones we have to work with on issues that affect us all, like the environment and stability in the Middle East and poverty, disease and justice?

Ah, screw ‘em, you say? You’re angry and impatient and you don’t want to remember how badly angry voting to send a message always turns out? I see; you want to vote for the entitled white guy who says he’s just like you and pretends to care.

So here’s my advice to anybody who wants to win an election in Massachusetts—unless you’re a woman, of course. All you have to do is get millions of dollars from Tea Partiers and Swift Boaters and the Republican National Party to show everybody how average a guy you are.

You don’t have to worry about voters looking past the spin, deeper into character and experience. We won’t be sensible about complex problems and how long they take to solve. Behaving responsibly toward our country and sister and fellow citizens? Recalling that we are one nation amongst many in an ever-shrinking world?

Nah, here in Massachusetters we voters are so done with that.

—Cheryl Suchors


  1. You go girl. Right on. For the first time since my 20s I'm ashamed of my fellow citizens... embarrassed by their inability to see through this unqualified candidate and worried about a state that chooses the candidate of intolerance over the candidate of intellect and experience...

  2. I am so with you on this, Cheryl. I would add racism to the mix. I keep coming back to the fact that courts had to mandate busing here in our oh-so-blue (not) state in order for Boston to take steps toward integration. I think there is a subtle (or not so subtle) disenchantment with the fact that we have a biracial president. I note the votes on the north shore and in other suburban and rural venues, and I just can't get the racist piece out of my mind. And of course the sexist piece. Of course that. Always that. I am so chagrined, so disgusted.

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  3. cheryl, i have been following this race from afar, in dc, on national television and online. i was not privvy to how their respective campaigns were run, etc. what you say rings true, but from here there were two other aspects that seem to present themselves in the media i see. the whole thing about scott having been nude in a cosmo centerfold and how good looking he is. i think it's like peop;le wanting to vote for palin because she's some sort of pin-up girl. it's hard to believe that people are that shallow, but maybe we have to believe it. but the other thing you did not mention was the healthcare excuse. that one is shameful, if true, too. that massachusetts voters voted against national healthcare because they do not want to be paying to establish reforms and a system of care for the rest of the nation. it is an attitude that is scary and sad.

    worse than all of that, though, is the supreme court decision today further bestowing rights to corporations as persons. big bad stuff is changing way too fast.

  4. Here’s a male perspective.

    First of all, I, too, was disappointed in the outcome of the election. Who would have thought that calling for a special election would have this result? I thought that, in the end, Martha would pull it off -- that the pundits would be wrong.

    But image means so much in our campaigns. Sad to say, good looks -- whether male or female -- are a factor, from high school class elections to the highest offices in the land. The pick-up truck (I suspect that Brown has another, less “Joe-the Plumber” vehicle in his driveway), corduroy jacket, kitchen-talking, etc., -- a lot of the same kinds of spin as the Palin packaging -- had an impact.

    True, Scott is more articulate than Sarah, but his off-the-cuff remark to the world that his daughters are “available” isn’t much different from her empty-headedness. Talk about sexism. I don’t have daughters of my own, but that made me cringe. Even with all his swagger, I can’t picture W making a comment like that about his daughters.

    The late poll numbers and media hype created a bandwagon effect. My male neighbor, a long-time Democrat, told me he didn’t see any point in voting for Coakley. And the last-minute flood of “personal” phone calls from Obama, Biden, Clinton, etc., conveyed a message of panic. I even got a live call from a woman in Virginia, who told me that Sen. Kerry asked her to phone me because national healthcare was on the line.

    By the way, even though I’m not a contractor, I used to own a pick-up truck. They’re just handy for renovations, home maintenance, and moving stuff. In Brown’s case, he hauled away a whole election in that rig.

  5. Absolutely, Cheryl. You expressed all the disgust and disappointment I feel, even from way out in California. What a blow to Democrats, women, and the whole nation, with health care on the line. It's just so short-sighted of people. It really is hard to believe, especially after 8 years of Bush. How quickly people forget!

    And I also agree with the analogies to Palin. The Republicans have discovered that the "common touch" spin works. Thank goodness it didn't work with Palin, yet. With her front and center campaign on Fox, I fear for the future.

    Thanks, Cheryl, again for your articulate comments in a distressing situation.

  6. I think you're exactly right, Cheryl. I think there was an idea that President Obama would have some sort of magical power to sort out the last 8 years of mistakes and bad choices in just a few months. Is it part of our national shortening attention span that we expect miracles in less than a year? It's a frustrating situation that I don't see changing any time soon.

    What you have written about what Mass voters did for the un-insured in the rest of the country is right on. Thanks for putting it in to words so well.

  7. And to the list I would add ableism, the bias toward those who are able-bodied and perhaps do not need as much health care as others. The vote was selfish more than anythng else and I think it has broader implicatons. I was at my blog the next morning about a nation divided and confused as the context for reckless politics and a soured immature citizenry. It's time American citizens stopped acting like spoiled brats. Thanks Bud, Lyn