The arrogance of the Obama Administration and Congress has cost Democrats a Senate seat in the bluest of blue states. Scott Brown emerged victorious last night against a very liberal candidate in Martha Coakley. It seems that the 2008 liberal playbook of talking points needs revision. Listening to liberal candidates blame George W. Bush is a bit like watching the Chicago Bears offense run the same play over and over for no gain after it worked on the first try.
Scott Brown’s victory brings many positives to light. The Democrats have effectively lost their supermajority power, which means that markets and the public no longer have to fear their ability to ram through catastrophic legislation. Gridlock is also very bullish for the market. This victory also sends a very chilling message to Democrats across the country that the heavy hand of big government is being rejected by the people. This was a Senate seat in Massachusetts and was occupied for decades by the late Ted Kennedy! Never in my lifetime would I have thought the seat would have gone to a Republican, especially only one year after the public and the media fawned all over President Obama. My first column after Obama was elected stated that he would make the best case for classical liberal/free market ideas. However, my optimism certainly didn’t extend to Massachusetts. If the Obama Administration and Pelosi-Reid led Congress respond with the usual arrogance and ignore the public’s message, then November is going to be a very dismal month for Democrats.
Now for the bad news…
Scott Brown’s victory may be just what the country needs in the short term, but ignoring the bigger picture does pose long-term problems.
Scott Brown was not even close to being the ideal candidate. His record, especially fiscally, is very disturbing to say the least. In fact, Brown has an 11-year record of voting for expanding government that includes the following:
• Brown urged voters to vote AGAINST “Ballot Question One” in the 2008 election that would have ended the Massachusetts state income tax. In addition, he failed to publicly endorse and take a stand on the biggest tax and spending issue facing Massachusetts this year – a ballot initiative to roll back the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. It is estimated that Massachusetts families would have had 32,929 new private sector jobs if the measure was passed. (1)
• Brown not only supported and endorsed the Massachusetts health care reform bill (also endorsed by Ted Kennedy) known as “Romneycare,” he played a key role in its design. “Romneycare” actually served as a model for “Obamacare,” as the bill forced all Massachusetts workers to buy health insurance or be subject to a penalty tax. It is very ironic that voters now sent him to the Senate to vote against “Obamacare.”
• Brown’s voting record does not show any sponsorship of a bill that cuts taxes, eliminates wasteful spending or shrinks government during his entire 11 year tenure in the Massachusetts state senate. (2)
The long-term concern here is populist outrage. Such outrage puts America in a perilous situation, as this type of outrage played a key role in Obama’s victory in 2008. The public was so angry and fed up with George W. Bush, many cast a blind vote for Obama without realizing that the agenda was the same – especially from an economic standpoint. People closed their eyes and ears to reality and did not take the time to actually listen to him on the campaign trail. Now that the anger has switched ideologies, folks on the right are repeating the same mistake. People are so caught up in their anger towards Obama and his policies, they are ignoring the fact that a lawyer with a fiscal record that would make some Democrats jealous was just sent to Washington to stop the very same agenda! While there is no doubt Brown will ride the populist wave and vote against big government, the concern lies in what he will do when “Father Time” quells the anger.
It is apparent in 2008 that a vote for Obama was simply a vote against Bush. Conservatives and libertarians must not make the same mistake and vote for candidates that do NOT represent their ideology to simply vote against Obama. Voters need to examine potential candidates’ records very carefully, and not fall back into the “lesser of two evils” mentality. Otherwise, the left, once again, gets to turn populist rhetoric in their favor by casting blame on an ideology when its principles were never enacted. Fake allies pose a much greater threat and can do far greater damage than known enemies. The tenure of the Bush Administration and John McCain’s unsuccessful presidential bid should have proved that conclusively.
Classical liberalism has made a comeback. The ideas of limited government and free markets were never dead. They were dormant. President Obama has allowed these ideas to be resurrected. It is now time for voters to make wise choices, examine records, hold their candidates accountable and vote based on IDEOLOGY not PARTY. Let’s not get caught up in the Democrat vs. Republican war, as America has seen where that leads.
November, 2010, poses one of the best opportunities in decades to get candidates in office who understand economics and will fight for free market principles. While I am thrilled to see people embracing these ideas and rejecting the current statist agenda and equally thrilled to see the Democrat machine take a hit in Massachusetts, I don’t want voters to lose sight of the long-term picture. Scott Brown is not the long-term solution we need to put America back on the path to prosperity.
Eugen Joseph Weber, The Hollow Years - At Amazon, Eugen Joseph Weber, *The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s*.
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