The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Goin’ Back To Massachusetts

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 20, 2010 @ 15:05

A song about a failing Democratic party being washed away on a tidal wave of apathy...

… sang the Bee Gees. And that’s exactly where failed Democratic candidate Martha Coakley will be staying today, after her humiliating defeat at the hands of the Republican machine.

The Democrat blogosphere is filled with much analysis today. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Reactions have varied from “it was a little local difficulty”, to a warning shot across good ship Obama’s bows, or the downright facetious, arguing Democrats never really had 60 votes anyway

Last night in my last post I was 50-50 about a Democrat win. Hence why I even tempered some of my usual scepticism. If this were an election in Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, i.e. a true swing state, then I would have had no doubts about a Republican win. But Massachusetts? Come on.

Some Democrats are trying to argue the solution now is to be true progressives, and go on a radical binge. Maybe. But Obama’s authority is now deeply undermined. The time to do that was at the start of the Presidency, when his mandate was at its strongest.

Congress, hardly known for its institutional bravery, is going to see this as an excuse to do nothing for the rest of the year. Why should they? After all, they try to do something for the American people and they get it shoved back in their face.

The problem is that, in this case, that is exactly what the Republicans want. Since Day 1, their agenda has been to slow down and stop anything and everything the Democrats want to do, because they know every little victory for the Dems amounts to a much bigger picture of demonstrating the change they want to bring to America.

It would be hard to believe that the American public’s minds have changed all that much in the space of 14 months. Back then there was genuine enthusiasm for a real fight to take down the special interests that are ruining America. How else could Obama have achieved such a ringing endorsement from the people? The message was CHANGE. The outcome has been anything but.

And, of course, I am exaggerating a little. Obama and Congress have indeed brought change over the past year. The verge of healthcare reform, no matter how much of a corporate boondoggle it is, is still an achievement. Actions on fair pay, the winding down of Iraq and Guantanamo, as well as that all important Supreme Court vacancy. Progress. Good stuff.

On the ground, however, circumstances changed. The extraordinary nature and depth of the recession demanded a change of emphasis. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. And laying the smackdown on the banking sector that had just taken the American taxpayer for a serious ride. That would still have all fitted his campaign strategy perfectly.

Obama missed the boat there.

Instead, they got mired in an eight month battle which displayed the worst excesses of partisanship, the divide in the Democratic party, and exposed a massive streak of entrenched special interest lobbying at the heart of the very same party whose ostensible figurehead – Obama – was elected to sort out.

The modern age of politics is as much about the message as it is about actually governing. We decry it, but we can’t deny the reality. Obama has let his agenda get seriously off kilter with what the American public wanted from him. Instead the message got lost, and the only good deeds that were being done were just not enough to sell the change rhetoric to an increasingly disinterested, cynical and misdirected electorate.

I’m sure Cameron’s team will be observing the lessons from Obama’s past year closely…

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