Tuesday's election was a wakeup call for the Democrats, but not, I think, in the way that the conventional wisdom seems to perceive it. As events continue, I find myself more and more in agreement with the Rude Pundit. He's given me permission to repost his thoughts on Tuesday and the aftermath.
1. Oh, grow a fucking pair already, whiny goddamn Democrats like Anthony Weiner or Barney Frank. You still belong to the majority party, the big majority party. You should be out there shredding Republicans, saying that they want to take us back to the policies of the Bush administration. Put that shit on repeat and use it. The biggest failure of the Democrats since the election of Barack Obama is that they have not made Republicans own the presidency of George W. Bush. It should become ingrained that "Republican=Bush." And the fact that it's not at this point means that idiots are running message for the Democrats. Americans are, for the most part, historical amnesiacs. They've already forgotten how our condition of being deeply fucked was a result of the very policies that Scott Brown ran on.
2. Let's give credit where it's due. Scott Brown won the Senate race fair and square, by campaigning like the underdog son of a bitch he was until a week ago. Martha Coakley should have acted like Hillary Clinton did in her re-election campaign in 2006. Clinton went all out when she didn't even have a real opponent because she knew how quickly the tide could turn against an incumbent, even though she had a 20 percent lead in most polls, even though she won by 31 percent. That's what you do.
3. Briefly (because anger must be released): Fuck you, Massachusetts. Not just for Brown's election, but for voting for Coakley in the Democratic primary. And fuck you because you already have health care program in your state, which made it a fuck of a lot easier to not give a shit about the rest of the nation (and means that it wasn't really about health care). Fuck you, White House and DSCC, for not seeing this coming.
4. While we're bemoaning the loss of the super-duper majority, we have to remember that so many in the Senate Democratic caucus are weaselly fuckers. What were the odds that skeevy Joe Lieberman wasn't going to dick over the Senate Democrats again when it came down to actually voting for health care reform? Or that the cowardly Evan Bayh (among other weasels) wasn't going to cave?
5. Since we are amnesiacs, let's not forget: Among the reasons that Bush was able to get whatever he wanted through the Congress for over five years, two stand out: 9/11 and lying. Had the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 not happened, the Bush presidency was going to be a fucking joke of tax cuts for the rich, culture wars, and trying to figure out how to bomb Iraq. Remember Jim Jeffords switching parties? Remember the stem cell speech? 9/11 happens, and all of a sudden everything is crisis and fear and threats of recrimination and Democrats get rolled, repeatedly. As for the lying, that's not just the wars. It's also the way that Ted Kennedy got burned twice by Bush - on No Child Left Behind and on the Medicare prescription drug act. Kennedy believed Bush and the Republicans would behave honorably and fully fund things. He was lied to. But Bush got to say for the rest of his presidency that he did something for kids and old people.
So what's the lesson? That Obama needs a bomb to go off in a mall? That he needs to make promises he won't keep to Republicans? The sad part is that if a terrorist attack happened, Republicans would immediately start riots against Obama, just as they would have done had Al Gore been president on 9/11. And Republicans aren't even going to sit down at the table on major legislation Obama wants. So what?
6. The lesson is that, in nearly every election, fear works. How did Republicans turn so many people against health care reform (see note below) and against Obama? Because they scared them. Republicans can, with a straight face, call Obama and Democrats "socialist" or whatever bugaboo word they want and then say that Democrats are to blame for the lack of bipartisanship. That's some shameless shit there. But it works.
Rhetorically, Republicans were articulating this message: "You will die and the government will take your money." Democrats, meanwhile, were stammering, "But, no, wait, pre-existing conditions, insurance exchange, 'Cadillac' health plans." While he might not have been the slickest messenger, Rep. Alan Grayson had the message right: life and death. "What if you lose your job? What if your kids need the doctor?" That would have required a bill that was clear in its objective, instead of whatever mutant clusterfuck of a thing is shat out of whatever committee or negotiating group is trying to bribe someone into voting.
If Republicans had wanted universal health care, you would have seen commercials with heartless insurance agents stabbing babies and drinking their blood. You would have seen ads with desperate, laid-off old men offering to blow people for quarters so they could afford their insulin. You would have seen ads about how sad it is that a depressed middle-aged woman with a dream of a scrapbooking store is now suicidal over not being able to follow her small business dream because if she left her shitty office job, she'd lose her health care. The ad would have ended with a gunshot in darkness. People would have been begging for health care reform because Republicans would have made it seem like the world would fall apart without it.
Hope was a great message to get Obama elected. But it only goes so far. Conservatives used fear to create the teabaggers. Republicans used fear in Massachusetts. Fear of "terrorists" being put on trial in America. Fear of mythical higher taxes. Republicans are using fear on members of Congress, as in "Pass these things and you will be voted out." Fear fucking works.
(Note: the Rude Pundit is leaving out the angry progressives who oppose health care reform in its current form and think the Senate bill sucks [which it does] because it doesn't even contain a public option, let alone universal health care. That's a separate issue, and since health care reform is up in the air now, who the fuck knows where it's gonna land and in what form.)
7. Buck up, once again, once again, motherfuckers. It's flee, fight, or roll over and get fucked. And the Rude Pundit's not ready to flee. And he prefers to do the fucking. The problem is figuring out who to fight.