Found in my drafts folder — and posted because the message is pertinent this week, when we here in Massachusetts hit the polls in the primaries. This was written the morning after Scott Brown was sworn in as our second senator last February. It’s about the real message that Massachusetts Democrats were sending–and it’s one that the national arm of the Democratic party had better be hearing–or across the country, progressive and liberal Democrats like me will be sending the same message by staying home in droves.

Last night, Scott Brown, the man who will go down in history as the Message from Massachusetts, was sworn in and took his seat in the Senate and all over the TV dial the pundits proved that our message was misunderstood.  Scott Brown was not elected because of some deep, simmering, populist anger — at least, not the simmering anger the pundits think exists. He wasn’t elected because he pretended to be a centrist–he never made any bones about going to Washington to kill health care reform and every other part of “Obama’s socialist agenda”.

Scott Brown was elected for two reasons. In a state that thrives on personal contact with its representatives, he did a marvelous job of reaching out and touching his constituents. Most Massachusetts voters grew up with Teddy Kennedy, possibly the most accessible senator in history. Whatever else you thought about Ted, there was no disputing that when you called his office with a problem, you never ever got a brush-off. Massachusetts votes had a choice in this election between a candidate that dismissed us out of hand as unimportant, and one who courted us with dozens of public appearances in just a few short weeks. Which one sounds more like Teddy Kennedy?

The second reason is the more compelling one, the one that carries the message. All over Massachusetts, progressive Democrats refused to do what we’ve been expected to do far too often in the past 20 years — hold our noses and pull the lever for a candidate who is ‘better than electing a Republican”.  It’s not just that Martha Coakley was a poor candidate. Martha Coakley was absolutely odious to many of us– to quote a friend, “She supports the death penalty and is against CORI reform? What the heck is the Republican like?”

Regardless, I did what good little Democrats are expected to do. I gritted my teeth and filled in the little circle next to Martha Coakley’s name — but it wasn’t a vote for Coakley. It was a vote against Scott Brown. Many of my friends, though, could not and would not bring themselves to vote for the woman who couldn’t be bothered to campaign, who had no actual positions on any of the issues important to us, who won the primary purely on the basis of name recognition in an election cycle that was too short to allow a better candidate to make a real name.

In short, Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, not because the Democratic candidate ran a lackluster campaign, but because she essentially ran no campaign at all. We were taken for granted–something that has become far too common in today’s political climate. In what will probably become the wave of future elections, we did not do what good little Democrats do when presented with a candidate who is less than desirable, but has a D after her name. We stayed home.


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