That's how the progressive end of the political spectrum interprets Brown's victory. What about the other side? Reading through the comments on various blogs and web sites, I discerned three themes:
- This is a victory for centrism
- This is a victory for bipartisanship
- This is a victory for America
As for bipartisanship, the Republicans have no interest whatsoever in that. Whether health care or economic recovery, they've offered no alternative, no compromise legislation that they would support. They've left the work to the Democrats while carping from the sideline and making it clear that they would not be part of any solution. Their agenda all along has been to return to power no matter what it means for the country in the meantime. I don't see how Scott Brown's election will change that.
Most of the outright crowing comes from the "victory for America" crowd. They of course regard Obama as a foreign-born communist, liberals and progressives and America-hating wimps, and the Democratic party as the agent of Satan. That voters agitated about the economy, confused about health care reform, and understandably resentful of the Wall Street bailout would make common cause with the purveyors of this toxic sludge is alarming, to say the least.
One hopes that this is a signal to Democratic senators and representatives to return to their populist roots. One thing senators could do is amass a party majority for popular legislation and force Republicans to actively filibuster. I've never understood why the party hasn't been doing this anyway: It seems to prefer to throw up its hands and say "we don't have the votes." This makes the majority look ineffectual (I wonder why) when it could be making the minority look obstructive (which it is).
Greider makes some good points:
If comprehensive healthcare reform is out of the question, Obama Democrats can break it down into smaller pieces and try to pass worthy measures one by one. A bill to prohibit insurance companies from banning people with pre-existing ailments? Pass it the House and try to pass it in the Senate. If Republicans want to filibuster, make them filibuster. A measure to allow cheaper drug imports from Canada? Let Republicans vote against that. Repealing the antitrust exemption for insurance companies--Democrats support it. Democrats need to start a fight on taxes too. Do Republicans want to tax Wall Street banks or not? Obama has proposed it, let's have a roll call. The attack strategy will focus on all the reforms people want and need and create a new political dynamic.The problem is that this requires a radically different mindset from the White House and Congress. Obama gave a fiery speech over the weekend in support of Coakley; it was the president at his best. Let's hope it was a step in the right direction...
Nichols also writes that Obama's performance regarding the earthquake in Hait has thus far been admirable...
A progressive mayor for New Orleans? Read more about James Perry's Roadmap to a Safer New Orleans here...