Image via WikipediaA Sad, Sad Day for Massachusetts
Wow. I'm still stunned. Not to mention upset. I've been following some of the news coverage of what happened in last week's election, to fill the late Senator Edward Kennedy's seat in Congress, and I think that many of the people who voted for Scott Brown are soon going to realize they made a mistake. I predict that, within the next six months, "Don't blame me, I voted for Coakley" bumper stickers are going to start appearing on cars around the Bay State. If this one vote really means that the entire nation heads back down into the awful mess we were mired in under the prior administration, Massachusetts voters for Brown will feel even worse. I don't think it will, but it will be interesting to see where we go from here.
Based on anecdotal evidence, I think most Democrats and Independents who voted for Scott Brown did so because they wanted to kill this health care bill. That, in my opinion, is short sighted on two counts. First, killing this health care bill because of scary things that have been said, or because one doesn't like parts of it, doesn't fix our problem of 40,000,000 uninsured Americans. Once we have a health care bill in place, we can fix the parts of it that don't work or don't work as well as we would like. If we don't have a bill at all, we are going to have to start from scratch each time this debate comes up.
In addition, a lot of the statements that have been made about the bill (huge amounts coming out of people's paychecks, death panels, the government interfering with treatment) just aren't true. Second, think about all the other things that many Democrats and Independents in Massachusetts believe in: marriage equality, a woman's right to choose, affirmative action, environmental justice, waging peace, and corporate responsibility. Do you really think that Republican Senator Scott Brown will stand up for those issues? Scott Brown did not run as a moderate and was not, again based on anecdotal evidence, elected to help the U. S. Senate's political parties agree on a healthcare compromise. What makes anyone think that he will become a moderate now?
Martha Coakley didn't run the greatest campaign. She, like many politicians, stuck her foot in her mouth a few times. She probably did assume that, having won the Massachusetts Democratic Primary, she was destined to be seated in the Senate. She should not, however, have to shoulder the blame alone. The Democratic Party has not done a good job of educating the public about the healthcare bill. If they had, many citizens wouldn't have voted for Scott Brown just because they feared that legislation.
There is one thing I'm glad I haven't heard in the aftermath of this election. I was afraid that widespread voting irregularities would be revealed and, while I wouldn't mind seeing Scott Brown removed from office if it turned out that he cheated, I'm pretty sure he was elected fairly by voters who were trying to send a message to Washington but went about it the wrong way. My hope is that we learn from this and that the Democrats really change.
We the people need to hold our legislators accountable. Not for being human, but for breaking promises, breaking the law, and acting immorally (and I'm not referring to who's sleeping with whom---I'm talking about doing the right thing). I was reminded recently that I can't have all the power and none of the responsibility. I have to participate and make my voice heard on election day and beyond. I am responsible. We are responsible.