This is the reason I love elections so much. Before the election, all kinds of talk about principals and doing the right thing and upholding the democratic process. Then, after the election, chuck it all aside in favor of spiting whoever beat you.
This isn't to say Republicans are any better. They talk a good game about upholding what they feel are traditional values, overlooking that they ignored their principals and kept silent during Obama's campaign just because they didn't like who got their nomination, John McCain, who was chosen by the very will of the voters they claim they are defending. It's a little late to convince me you have principals now, jagoffs.
The unthinkable happened -- for the first time since 1972, Massachusetts has elected a Republican Senator. And to fill the seat of the archetypal Democratic Senator, Ted "Biggie" Kennedy.
Before the election, I was too scared to gaze into my crystal ball. The two party political system means oversimplified debate and people voting against candidates instead of for them. Obama's approval rating is in the basement. 83% of people think the health care reform package ginned up by Harry Reid is a disaster of government intrusion, cronyism, and out of control spending. But this is Massachusetts, where they put up with the Kennedys for God knows how many years. The signal to noise ratio was just too great for me to make any predictions.
Yet, by lunch, I started getting a vision in my crystal ball, one that didn't look good for the D's. There were two things that were happening -- first, exit polls were emphasizing voters who voted for the D's candidate, Martha Coakley, because they were voting for change. Keep in mind, I consider the news media complicit in getting Obama elected, from his little Oprah-produced infomercial to all the feelgood stories that ignored his voting history and political connections. So this smelled like spin -- trying to convince everyone the election was in the bag (like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House -- "Remain calm! Everything's under control! All is well!"). I started sensing this would backfire. When Shrub was up for re-election in 2004, all kinds of groups sprung up to support John Kerry like MoveOn.org. This not only galvanized Kerry supporters, but it also got the Shrub supporters mobilized, since they were afraid they'd lose the election. Trying to convince people the election is already over is only going to make the opposition turn out in higher numbers.
The second thing was other news reports pouring in from all corners of the Internet. The D's were already fingerpointing who was responsible for losing the election before the formal count began and the exit polls were showing Coakley with the lead. They knew something at that point, and I pay more attention when politicians panic than when they speak. By the time I got home, reports were saying Scott Brown had suddenly made it a close race. I turned off the news and read some comic books -- I felt Brown had it in the bag.
Now, the D's are saying they'll swear him in after he jumps through hoops for them. So much for upholding the democratic process. Hey -- your candidate lost due to the hubris of the entire party and voter anger that you are not listening to them. Act with some class, or you are just giving people more ammunition to use against you this coming November.
Of course, the big thing is how the R's can use this to filibuster. Forget the legislative stuff, the important thing is to argue over a bad health care reform package instead of doing actual work. There is a bright side to this. First of all, the Obama Juggernaut is effectively out of gas. For all his stumping, his pony didn't win at the finish line. And, Obama's grass roots campaign organization has been exposed as a bunch of phonies. During the presidential election, there was all this talk about how effective they were, and they became the gropos ("ground pounders" or "grunts" for you non-military types) for health care reform. During last November's elections, Obama tried to put a smiley face on things, no doubt because he felt his astroturfers could still tilt elections the way he wanted. I suspect a lot of the support he got was from the promise that, polls may show a lot of people don't like the bill, but my foot soldiers will make sure you don't lose re-election.
Grass roots organizations are powerful. And there is only one force in the universe that can stop them -- the NIMBY's. NIMBY is an acronym for "Not In My BackYard." I don't like NIMBY's. I regard them as Weekend Warrior activists. They only know enough about an issue to form the opinion that they don't want something happening in their locale, and that's it. They don't care if it happens somewhere else, just not with them. You see this all the time when there are zoning issues the municipality has to deal with (I attended a town hall meeting a few years ago and was the only one there not a NIMBY. A new building was going up, and no one wanted it in their area because it could be sold and turned into a bar. No other points, just concerns that someone might buy the place in five years and open a bar. In a brand new building. These people don't know bar owners and patrons very well). The health care package has produced an entire nation of NIMBY's, and they rolled natural 20's against Obama's grass roots groups.
There was talk of trying to keep the health care package out of the Senate using a little used loophole in procedure. But the entire House is up for election this year, and everyone will want to keep their phony baloney jobs. With the Senate suddenly stuck in slow motion and everyone up for election shitting bricks because they now no there is no free ride awaiting them, the bad bill should finally die a deserved death.
If the R's are serious about health care reform, let's see a plan with tort reform and that eliminates exclusive deals that prevent people from choosing the pharmacies and doctors they prefer because their health plan wants them to stay within their own little circle jerk network. But that won't happen. This was all about creating gridlock, not progress.