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Scott Brown: A Change for Massachusetts

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Senator Scott Brown

A year after Barack Obama’s inauguration brought “change to America,” an unexpected change has occurred in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Republican Scott Brown, a heretofore obscure State Senator and real estate attorney, won election to the United States Senate by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in the Special Election to fill the remaining three years of deceased Senator Ted Kennedy’s term of office.  In arguably the country’s most liberal state and in a startling turnabout from polls showing him trailing by 20% as recently as two weeks ago, Brown defeated Coakley by 5 percentage points just one year after Barack Obama carried the state by 26% over his Republican rival, Senator John McCain.


The stunning results have severely dampened the mood of Democrats in Washington and thrown a monkey wrench into the Obama Administration’s plans for healthcare reform.  When seated, Brown will become the 41st Republican in the U.S. Senate; thereby, robbing the Democrats of their filibuster-proof majority.  Perhaps more significantly, Brown’s election and margin of victory in a state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 calls into question the public’s support for the Administration’s agenda for change, most notably in the healthcare arena.


With elections for the entire House of Representatives and 36 of the 100 Senate seats looming in November, Brown’s victory, following GOP gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia, provides mounting evidence of the American public’s unease with the nature and pace of change as it currently exists.  As our 44th President is learning, talking about change is easy; securing agreement and implementing change is difficult in the extreme.


As individuals, we struggle as we contend with change versus the status quo.  The idea of fresh ideas and approaches is very appealing yet also frightening, taking us out of our comfort zones.  Is it surprising that, when faced with momentous changes, the public collectively responds as do individuals?


In my humble opinion, Scott Brown’s surprising victory is an indication of the public’s ambivalence over the Democrats’ agenda for change and one-party rule.  Overwhelmed by the scope and rapidity of change, the voters of Massachusetts have taken a small step toward restoring balance to our legislative process and perspective.  This coming November, I believe that voters across the country will likely continue this trend.


Yet, one should be careful not to read too much into Brown’s victory or the prospective Republican electoral surge this fall.  The public holds neither Republicans nor Democrats in particularly high esteem.  And, the American people are smarter than politicians and their minions give them credit.


We understand that, as a nation, we face perplexing problems:  an economic downturn spawning persistent and worrisome unemployment levels, rapidly accelerating healthcare costs and deficiencies in health insurance coverage, climate change regardless of root cause, the growing threat of terrorism on American soil, and a deepening cynicism and distrust of government.  And, we realize that change is necessary if we are to resolve these and a host of other issues.  Yet, we are dissatisfied with the solutions offered and appalled by the rancor of current political discourse and the crass indifference of the Washington elite toward the citizens whom they represent.


Under these conditions, the victory of a relative political unknown over a well-oiled party machine should have come as no surprise.  And so, congratulations Scott Brown.  But, when you get to Washington, keep in mind the horse upon which you rode into town and resolve yourself to find and promote common ground with those of every political persuasion in crafting uniquely American solutions to our most pressing problems.  If you do, then that would be a change in which we all can believe. 

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