It's not that Democrats tried to do too much or got too arrogant, it's that they surged into Washington, D.C. on a ticket of changing the way Washington works--and they didn't. The majority didn't get too liberal, it got too Washington.
Last night's special election victory in deep blue Massachusetts wasn't a referendum on President Obama or on health care, it was a referendum on politics in a Washington that places the interests of Wall Street titans and corporate executives ahead of the interests of Main Street America (Click here if you want to see an unfortunate snapshot of the Coakley campaign). Much as Obama and the Democrats rode to victory on a wave of public indignation over an unresponsive and ineffective Washington, so did Scott Brown
On the anniversary of President Obama's inauguration, the policy-making process in Washington, D.C is still paralyzed by expensive gun-for-hire lobbyists and millions of dollars in campaign cash flooding Washington that kill meaningful reforms and maintain the status quo.
The big banks, bailed out by us for the economic mess they created, are on Capitol Hill lobbying to blunt financial reform and using their campaign cash as leverage. Health insurers and their lobbyists spent big to water down health care legislation. Climate change will likely not even be debated. And any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to release its decision in Citizens United v. FEC that could give corporations even more sway to influence elections and obstruct solutions.
Last night's vote was a repudiation of the dysfunctional ways of Washington, D.C. In 2008, voters elected the largest Democratic majority in a generation to send a message: fix the ways of Washington and stop pandering to the special interests.
Facing an increasingly tough election battle in November, the situation isn't going to improve. Republicans and Democrats will have to go hat-in-hand to the same big donors to fund what will likely be an election season more expensive than any previous mid-term. Candidates from both parties will ply populist rhetoric to their constituents at campaign events while high-fiving corporate influence at elite fundraisers.
Voters in the Bay State sent a message Tuesday--the same message that they sent in 2008. Washington better listen up. Changing the faces of power isn't enough. It's time to change the system.