Think back a little over a year ago. President Barack Obama had just been inaugurated. The Democrats had 59 seats in the house with a filibuster-proof 60th just a few recounts away in Minnesota.
One year after American voters pushed Republicans out of power, the party is creeping back. The right-wingers got one Senate seat back last week in the Massachusetts special election for the late Ted Kennedy’s seat. The state that had long been a stronghold for Democrats, but it elected Republican Scott Brown to take the empty seat, the first Republican to hold a Massachusetts Senate seat since 1972.
Losing a Senate seat in Massachusetts is a major loss for the Democrats. The defeat falls heavily on the shoulders of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who lost the special election.
Coakley’s first mistake was taking a vacation in the middle of campaigning. She left Massachusetts in between winning the Dec. 8 primary and the election, a time frame that allowed Brown to gain support.
Other mistakes Coakley made in the race included saying that she “looked the other way” in regards to immigration laws and calling former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling a “Yankees fan” when he campaigned for Brown.
But Coakley’s biggest no-no of all? Suggesting that campaigning at “cold” Fenway Park during the NHL’s outdoor Winter Classic was beneath her. Living in Massachusetts, she should know that disrespecting the Red Sox and their fans could kill a career not only in the Bay State, but in all of New England.
The loss of Kennedy’s seat cannot be blamed solely on Coakley though. Obama wanted the health care reform bill to be more radical than many Senate Democrats expected, which has driven a wedge into the party.
Democrats have so many different views on hot topics right now that they are making the post-2008 election Republicans look like they knew what they were doing. And the face of the GOP at that time was Sarah Palin.Sarah Palin!
The arrogant view of the Democratic Party in that they could get anything done without the help of the Republicans just changed with Brown’s Massachusetts win. Obama may have ruined any goodwill he had with Republicans, making bipartisan negotiations all but impossible.
Thirty-six Senate seats are up for re-election in November. If the Democratic Party does not become unified and regain some trust with the public before then, that “change” that Obama preached on the campaign trail could come in the form of a Republican Congress when November rolls around.
Chris Blake is a junior broadcast journalism major from Irving.