Last Tuesday, the voters of Massachusetts sent an incredibly powerful message to the Democrats in Washington that their out-of-control spending and efforts to rush through health-care legislation will not be tolerated by the electorate. In a stunning upset, Republican Scott Brown defeated his Democratic opponent in the bluest of blue states to capture the United States Senate position left vacant by the passing of the late Ted Kennedy.
Only a year ago, pundits across the nation were proclaiming the Republican Party dead in the water, causing many Democrats to feel they had free rein. However, things are about to change. There's just no way to oversell this victory.
Massachusetts hasn't fielded a Republican Senator for 31 years. Senator-elect Brown will be the only Republican in the entire state delegation to Congress. Less than a year and a half ago, Barack Obama took Massachusetts by 26 points, which makes Scott Brown's triumph a 31-point reversal.
Today, many Democrats are rushing in to do damage control, claiming that this was a case of a bad candidate in a challenging local environment. However, coming into this race, Martha Coakley was not an unknown commodity who was quickly cast on the most public of stages. Rather, she came into this general election only after having earned her party's nomination due, in part, to her position as a popular statewide figure who had previously received over 78 percent of the statewide vote earning her the commonwealth's attorney general position. And she also had one of the strongest political machines in the country at her disposal. No, this was not a case of a bad candidate struggling in a tough local environment. This was clearly a rebuke of the Democrats' national agenda.
And not only did Scott Brown win a political race, he may have helped delay or defeat one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation to sniff passage in decades. And for Democrats, who may hold on to the hope that the Massachusetts results were not about the Democrats' national agenda, they only need to be reminded that Republican candidate Brown was victorious in Ted Kennedy's own precinct.
I don't often give advice to my friends across the proverbial political aisle, but I feel compelled to do so today. Democrats need to step back and realize that a wave of populism is taking hold in this country, uniting Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. If the fact that over 20 percent of registered Democrats in Massachusetts gravitated to the Republican candidate does not help my Democratic friends come to this realization, nothing will. Just 11 percent of voters in Massachusetts are Republicans. Republicans did not carry this victory. The people of Massachusetts did, people of every political stripe.
Democrats need to immediately suspend debate and votes on health-care legislation until Scott Brown is seated. They also need to realize that when polling shows that a mere 38 percent of Americans support that legislation, it is time to make significant changes to their agenda.
It should not be lost on them that the 38 percent number equals former President George W. Bush's approval at the end of this presidency, a number that Democrats once pointed to as proof that Americans clearly rebuked the policies of his administration. Three consecutive times now, in the races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, and now in Massachusetts, independents have surged against the president and brought the Republican candidate to victory. Now that's a rebuke!
The results in Massachusetts demonstrate that a tide of real change is finally taking hold in this country, rejecting excessive spending, whether it is promoted by Republicans or Democrats. It is now up to Republicans to take advantage of this sweeping movement by returning to our roots of promoting a smaller, smarter and more efficient government -- a government that is not in the business of running our nation's health-care programs.
Working together, holding to our core principles, and speaking for the people, the Republicans can carry this momentum westward to electoral victory, even in the most blue of states and districts.
Mike Reagan is the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan. E-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.