03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Coakley, Massachusetts and the Lessons That Need to Be Learned


The Democratic Party is having a teachable moment in Massachusetts right now, and they're not learning anything they want to hear.

It's a little inconceivable that Ted Kennedy's seat could go Republican, and be the election that puts a spike in the heart of health care reform.

Not a trenched in right, who made this their rallying issue. And not the greed or ego of people like Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman, who through their own agendas watered it down and prolonged the debate.

Right now, this week, it comes down to Ted Kennedy's seat.

If the Democrats lose in Massachusetts -- lose an election that should have been a slam dunk -- those of us who believe in this President and his agenda need to take a step back and re-evaluate how we look at the people who are opposed to him.

It's very easy to see the Tea Party loons in their stupid little costumes and dismiss them. And yes, the right wing media is covering this debate the same way D.W. Griffith covered the Civil War. But this is Massachusetts, folks, not Alabama.

Actual people who have supported a Democratic agenda for decades seem to be making a decision to vote for someone who has said "I don't like the President's plan for America and my vote is the one to stop it."

Underestimating that, discounting it -- these are the things that made Democrats think they could slap any candidate on the ballot, ignore the election, and walk away with a victory.

And now, they are on the precipice of a devastating loss.

No matter what happens Tuesday, I support this President. I think he's doing a much better job than he's allowed credit for, and the screeching from his enemies has done a good job of drowning that out.

He has made mistakes, he has made miscalculations -- but if I had to choose between him and the nearly super-villain-esque policies advocated by Dick Cheney and his henchman Liz, I would vote for Obama all over again.

But the left needs a better message. And it needs better messengers to get that message out. And if that message is rejected -- the left needs to realize that not everybody who rejects it is a birther-style nut.

As I look at the polls, and think about Obama flying in from Washington to fight for his vision of America, that's where my head is at. People to the far-left and the far-right are locked in -- but moderates and independents are making a choice here.

I hope the polls are wrong. I hope Obama sweeps into this state, rallies the troops, rallies his voters, and Coakley pulls out a resurgent win. There is too much important work to do, and that work will grind to a halt if she loses.

There are people who would rather see this country lock up, or burn to the ground, before allowing this President a single victory.

But if Coakley does lose -- or simply pulls out a squeaker victory -- there's a lesson in this. It will be time to stop looking at the "middle" with dismissive indignation, and start realizing there's a bigger movement going on here than many of us want to admit.

Heads out of the sand, folks. No matter what happens Tuesday, it's going to be a very bumpy second year.