I really don't understand why every Democrat in the US is "stunned" at Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts on the day of President O-dreamy's first anniversary (NYTimes: "GOP Victory Stuns Democrats"). Honestly, I don't.
Yes, it tooootally sucks to replace the late and great Senator Ted Kennedy with a truck-driving, American-Idol spawning, Cosmopolitan centerfold who has vowed to stop health care reform. Boy does it suck.
And yes, it toootally sucks that this has invigorated what had previously been a cannibalistic Republican party (Hi, NY-23 and Florida Senate!) with a clear GOP rallying cry that will ultimately help with Republican recruitment for the 2010 midterms.
And finally, yes, it reaaaaally sucks that we don't have the 60 votes we need to block inevitable Republican filibusters.
So why am I not drinking myself into a coma? Why am I not rocking myself to sleep listening to the soothing songs of Sarah McLachlan?
Because Democrats deserved this loss and it will make them leaner and meaner going into the midterms. It will, I promise. Make no mistake: Democrats had lost their way and a little fear will go a long way toward correcting course. It worked wonders after the 2004 presidential election and it can work again to our advantage.
Don't believe me that we were on the wrong track? Look at the election results. The Republican, Scott Brown, won in counties where unemployment is the highest, despite big Obama wins 14 months earlier. Let me say that again: A Republican won big majorities in high unemployment counties. This is called a political paradigm shift. And it's also called a problem.
People don't believe we are the party of the people right now. What that should tell Democrats loud and clear is: Take ownership over voter anger and start creating jobs. (Well, first it should say: "Don't run out-of-touch, lazy candidates who take voters for granted." Then it should say: "Start creating jobs.") It's time to start getting it done for people who are hurting the most and recognize you have neglected that core Democratic principle for too long.
It also would be a good idea to take a piece from the Republican Senate playbook from 2000-2006. Republicans back then got a bunch of shit done, with smaller majorities. They were on-message, they had the strong backing of the Republican President, they knew what they wanted to do as a party.
Yes, they over-reached, they got arrogant, they fucked up our economy. But they were unified then and we are not now. Figuring out what conservative Democrat Ben Nelson is FOR as opposed to what he is AGAINST might help as a starting strategy. What makes someone like Nelson a Democrat? Don't start with Ted Kennedy's dream and work backwards.
Democrats today could also learn from President Bill Clinton in 1994. He lost big majorities in the Republican sweep that year and realized he needed a reset. He didn't arrogantly ignore political reality and push through universal health care anyway. Neither should the Democrats now fight against seating Brown right away to push through a mediocre health care bill that not a single Republican supports and that pretty much every progressive Democrat loathes. That's called a lose-lose.
Let me remind Democrats, a majority isn't 60 votes, filibuster or not. It's 50 ... with a tie-breaking Joe Biden. So start coming up with a game plan that's smarter than what you've been using. You still have a few reasonable Senate Republicans—two from Maine and one from Ohio. Work that shit hard. You have the Senate's most valuable player in your caucus. Use her to execute a plan.
I know this isn't the happiest of anniversaries for our historic and O-awesome President, nor for the die-hard 34 percent who still approve of his policies. But all is not lost. We still have huge majorities in the Senate and the House, we have a wicked smart, charismatic, dreamy (oh and he's black to boot!) President, and now we have a real fear of loss of power. Those are advantages. Take it, mobilize and run with it.