I’ll admit it. On the night of the Massachusetts election, I watched MSNBC. I did so mostly because I wanted to see the anguished look of panic and desperation spread across Keith Olbermann’s face. I wasn’t disappointed. Olbermann spent the evening flailing desperately at explanations, like a drowning paraplegic trying to reach a life preserver, before settling on the notion that it all had to be Coakley’s fault. Once that was settled, he and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) spent a good 20 minutes educating their audience about how Brown’s victory was actually going to be bad for Republicans. “The party of no,” they said, would finally be exposed as the obstructionist imbeciles that they are. I learned two things from this. First, listening to Stabenow is about as exciting as watching an apple turn brown. Second, die-hard, far-left Democrats are willfully refusing to learn from their loss, so Republicans had better.
The lesson? While Brown’s win was certainly a referendum on Barack Obama, it was also a stark rejection of the wishy-washy, middle-of-the-road Republicans that have plagued the GOP since the early ’90s.
If GOP triumphs in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts tell us anything, it’s that voters are fed up with the current administration’s ideology, and they are looking for people who will fight it. Brown’s entire campaign was centered on the idea that his would be the vote that would kill health care reform. Contrary to what Mr. Olbermann thinks, people have no problem with politicians saying “no”—particularly when they are facing off against an agenda as unpopular as Obama’s. If Brown had gone out on the campaign trail, spreading the message that he wanted to work with Obama, he would never have defeated Coakley. He won by refusing to play the “we’re all friends” game. That should send a signal. For the next 10 months, “no” will work. In fact, a record of opposing this president, coupled with a promise to keep up the fight, is probably 50 percent of a 2010 win.
That’s not to say that Republicans can coast along without articulating plan of their own. This year, they will have to lay out a vision of where they want to take the country. Most of the mainstream media is ready to dismiss the Brown campaign as having focused on the old standbys of lower taxes and smaller government. While that message is still important, focusing on it is nothing new, and it hasn’t led a Republican to a Massachusetts win in over 30 years. So what did Brown do differently that so terrifies the Olbermanns of the world? He embraced tenants of the Tea Party movement and the Libertarian Party, fusing them into a new take on classic conservatism. At least it feels new, since we haven’t seen it in so long. Issues like personal liberty, states’ rights, upholding the 10th Amendment, stopping cap and trade, and national sovereignty were front and center in a Massachusetts election, and they won. Those looking to become the next John McCain should pay close attention. The nation is moving on and it’s far more interested in fighting for its freedom than compromise for the sake of expediency.
Financially, they need to drive home the idea that the Obama course in unsustainable. While the American people have known this for some time, Democrats have been either unable or unwilling to grasp it. The United States is not a socialist country, and the vast majority of people won’t tolerate anyone who tries to make it one. This nation does not need to be rebuilt “from the foundation up.” What it does need is a government willing to lower the debt, buy back our future from China, and stop the incessant borrowing. Republicans have to understand that the decades-long spend-a-thon is over. Painful, often unpopular cuts are going to have to be made. If they think it’s business as usual, they’ll only damage their party and the country as a whole.
On a more personal level, Brown reminded us that people are finished with arrogance. There’s no denying the Senator-elect’s appeal. He’s handsome, friendly, well spoken and affable. He comes across as a regular person—a guy who drinks a beer while he rakes his leaves. Olbermann, of course, referred to him as “an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, tea-bagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.” Olbermann’s rant, which is itself violent, reactionary and an irresponsible, is the perfect example of the elite left’s self-destructive attitude. Just as people have stopped watching MSNBC, they’ve come to a realization about the Harry Reids and Nancy Pelosis of the world. Arrogant politicians need voters far more than voters need arrogant politicians, and the dismal 21 percent approval rating currently enjoyed by Congress is a direct result.
Polls showed support for health care reform in the low 30’s. Unprecedented demonstrations were leveled at D.C., consisting mostly of people who had never done such a thing before. Letters choked congressional mailboxes, while phone calls disabled federal switchboards. Democrats ignored it all. Instead of listening, they embarked on a course of “education.” Those of us who did not support what was happening needed to be taught the error of our short-sighted ways. The idea that politicians work for their constituents never entered their minds. They knew what was best for us and, come hell or high water, they were going to do it. As Republicans return to prominence, they need to know that they are there as representatives, not overlords. Failure to follow the wishes of their districts will only lead to greater strife.
If the conservative momentum continues, 2010 will find the Republicans regaining a great deal of power. Let’s hope the GOP is paying attention, and that they understand what their success stems from. Brown’s election should be their blueprint: stop Obama, lower the debt, unleash the economy and restore personal freedom. Deviate from that and face disaster. The old notion that people will support their party, no matter what it does, ended with an election year that left the GOP reeling and Obama in the White House. The left, it seems, has failed to learn the lesson. God help the Congressional right if, as they grow in number, they march up to Capitol Hill and forget why they won.
Robert Laurie writes a daily political commentary blog, The Robalution. Robert holds a degree in English from Wayne State University, and has worked in advertising as a graphic designer and copy writer.