I’ll leave the contemporary analysis to the pundits, who are falling over themselves to see who can find a new and creative way of saying “Barack Obama is in trouble”, or “health care is in trouble” and still sound like they came up with something original. I’m quite convinced that both statements are true, but how many times can we say the same thing?
Make no mistake—I am happy with the result. I would’ve voted for Brown. I’ve never before felt close to tears when watching political results, but I felt real emotion last night for the town that I’ve only spent a grand total of twelve days in the course of my life, but still feel like is my adopted one. To love Boston and associate in mostly politically conservative Catholic circles leaves one on the defensive, and from anecdotal experience, I always tried (vainly) to argue that the people might be Democrats, but they weren’t as liberal or as dogmatic as the rest of the nation believed. The strong turnout for Brown in traditionally Euro-ethnic communities backed up that belief.
But as I watched Fox News last night, I also felt a real sense of anger, particularly when Sean Hannity come on celebrating the results. Because while this is a short-term victory for a politically conservative candidate, it was not the vindication of traditional Republican doctrine that Hannity would have us believe. The focus groups run on Fox never mentioned Brown’s name. It was about sending a message, of being fed up with the way the Democrats are running things. And that applies not just to Washington, but to this particular Senate race—the Democratic primary boiled down to whether Coakley or principal challenger Michael Capuano could outdo each other in their demands for federal funding of abortion. Celtics co-owner Steve Paglicua, who was reliably pro-choice, but less dogmatic on funding, was ignored. The fine congressman from South Boston, Stephen Lynch, an economic populist and social traditionalist in the very best traditions of his party was never given the backing to even start a campaign. Be it nationally or in state politics, there can be no denying that this was a massive defeat for the left-wing dogmatism that has a chokehold on national Democratic politics and within the deep Blue states. They are a minority who can be outgunned if regular people just show up at the polls, and that includes in Democratic primaries, lest Hannity’s self-righteous veneer become a regular part of our election night viewing.
What happens in Boston never stays in Boston, at least when it comes to Democratic politics, and that means we are entering a new era with a lot up for grabs. The left wing imposters that have hijacked the party won’t go quietly into the good night. The right wing will be anxious to spin the results to shape their own agenda, as Hannity already demonstrated. What happens to the traditional Democrats? The ones who were instrumental in the passage of Medicare, the program Republicans are now rushing to protect during the health care debate (hat tip to Boston’s John McCormack, who was vital in the passage of health care for the elderly in the mid-1960s). Or workman’s compensation, a program no serious Republican disputes anymore (hats off to Boston’s Tip O’Neill, who worked to extend it to longshoreman). Those fights have their own applications today. Because if Brown’s victory is used to perpetuate a health insurance company racket so lucrative that the Cosa Nostra would blush in embarrassment, it will be an empty win indeed.
In the new era, it’s long past time for the people that believe in the old Democratic faith to mount our own comeback—that government has a place, in the support of work, the traditional family and law and order, both home and abroad. That while big government must be contained, it’s not inherently worse than big business, which has shamelessly shipped jobs overseas to the lowest-paying places on the planet, cut benefits at home and then come whining to the government for a bailout. I’ve long been told by conservative friends that they’d have been with me forty years ago, but that’s not relevant today—and even if were, the Democratic Party is a hopeless vehicle. I didn’t believe it then, but there was blind faith involved. I certainly don’t believe it today. The Left’s control must be ended, but the Republican Party’s big business dogmatism on one side, hard-right libertarianism on the other, mixed with a heavy dose of anti-Catholic evangelicals will never provide anything more than temporary exile. In the fight for the new era, it’s time for traditional Democrats to ask the question Curt Schilling asked in 2004—“Why not us?”
This is also the end of an era for Blue Dog Reaganite as well. The time commitment to keeping up a regular political blog has proven to be too much. I have every intention of continuing the battle discussed above. I hope you’ll consider taking a look at my book in the upper left hand corner of the site, which has a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign as a key part of its story. I am presently working on a trilogy that will build off the characters and themes. And I do intend to maintain some sort of web presence in the political/cultural sphere, but at this point I am not sure what. I’d like to thank all of you who dropped in, and whenever the future plans become formulated and concrete, Blue Dog Reaganite will be the place it’s announced.