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Lynn Forester de Rothschild Headshot

Massachusetts Voters' Message to Obama and Congressional Democrats

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The problem for the Democrats in Massachusetts was not Martha Coakley; it was the Obama agenda. In 2008, voters believed that they were electing a person who would focus on the economy with laser intensity and lead in a bipartisan and principled matter. What they have gotten is a deeply divisive President committed to transforming America into a European-style social democracy. In this first year, he forced a health care bill at the expense of vitally needed focus on job creation. He has scared hard-working American voters with his hard-left rhetoric and his signature policies.

The Obama approach to health care reform is the most egregious example of breaking trust with the American people. He brokered no Republican compromise; he demonized the other side for being captive to vested interests as he made private deals with Democratic special interest groups like the unions, the insurance companies and "hold-out" Senators like Ben Nelson (who was just looking for his pound of flesh at the expense of the rest of the American people); he outsourced the bill to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid behind closed doors as he focused only on taking the victory lap for pathetic, piecemeal legislation that does not deal with our exorbitant health care costs. Have no doubt, the speech trumpeting "his" historic achievement, where other less talented Presidents than himself have failed, is already loaded on the teleprompter.

These are major negative factors for the independent voters who believed that Barack Obama was a principled and moderate Democrat. This is particularly true in Massachusetts where the nation's only universal health care plan is bankrupting the state because of politicians' congenital inability to deal with spiraling costs. In Massachusetts, a full 47% of voters are Independents, with 33% Democrat and only 11% Republican. For many of these voters, Barack Obama is now a busted flush; he was full of promise but has neither delivered on that promise nor exhibited the capability to deliver. He has broken the trust of the people, and voters are taking the only action available to them: Electing a candidate who can stop the Obama agenda and help restore balance to a broken political system. The voters in the Bay State are resorting to the principle that our Founding Fathers made famous: checks and balances. It is unlikely that all voters overwhelmingly support Republican State Senator Scott Brown, but it is certain that they see him as a vital player in forcing Barack Obama to come back to the center.

This is important to keep in mind in reviewing Tuesday's results. Equally important is to reject the demonization of Coakley that is being perpetrated by the Obama White House and the Pelosi/Reid Congress. Coakley's troubles were never about her as a candidate; she has won state-wide elections before and few would argue she is more removed than John Kerry. Her problem was simply about the President and the radical course being charted by Democrats in Congress. A year after his inauguration -- and three years since Democrats regained Congress -- voters were holding Obama accountable. This simple fact makes scapegoating Coakley unconscionable, and yet this week all knives are out from the Obama White House. Coakley was insufficiently charismatic, leading Democrats are saying; she did not have an emotional connection to the voters. She did not work hard enough. She was more a "nun" than a political candidate!

This is all nonsense of course, but not surprising. After all, it's not the first time the current crop of Democratic party leaders have torn down a talented woman in their midst.

That Hillary Clinton won Massachusetts by a resounding sixteen points in 2008 is not unrelated. While Massachusetts may be bluest of the blue, it's a state where working class liberalism still runs deep, where an honest day's work is still held in higher esteem than entitlement handouts. When Hillary ran on these principles, Massachusetts voters embraced her. And for this same reason, on Tuesday they embraced Scott Brown.

Obama's team may want to make the election about Martha Coakley, but it's not about her. As rank-and-file Democrats try to make Martha Coakley the issue and engage in her assassination, they miss the fact that they are in a circular firing squad. Their problem is that they are out of touch, and their boosters in the media cannot save them.

Voters this week stood up and said 'enough is enough.' It's high time Obama and the Democrats in Congress got the message.

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