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.