Although I have been a policy analyst in Washington DC for a good many years, I grew up in Massachusetts. I have lots of friends and family there. I lamented the trades of Mike Lowell and Jason Bay. I am strongly against tomatoes in a clam chowdah. I have a few things to say about today's vote. Not as a policy analyst, but as a "girl with an Irish last name from the South Shoah."
I have been speaking with other folks there, trying to understand the surge in support for a relatively unknown Republican vying for the seat of our beloved "Teddy."
"He must be one of these really liberal Republicans, you know, in the mold of a Nelson Rockefeller or something. This is it, right?" I asked a childhood friend.
"No." she said. "He looks good naked."
So, I asked another former schoolmate from the old days, "So, it's because he looks good naked?" "Of course not!" came the indignant reply "...Well, I mean, he does, but my prayer group is going crazy online urging folks to vote for Brown because he will save innocent embryonic lives. They say Coakley doesn't care about fetuses."
Others believe that somehow Brown's opposition to protective financial regulation will magically restore their portfolios to bubble-like proportions. They think his tax-cuts for the wealthy will have a vastly different outcome from Bush's tax-cuts for the wealthy. They think he will string Osama up by his beard by nightfall.
And, what about Democratic contender Martha Coakley? The Irish, liberal, current sweetheart of the President of the United States?
"She wears too much "pancake makeup."
"Are you kidding me? She is a Yankees fan!"
"She's soft on sex offenders."
They think she wants to bus in immigrants take over their schools. They think she likes terrorists and gets high off of raising taxes. They think she will take their tax dollars and give it to an "illegal alien" in Arizona for an abortion. Don't get me wrong--they like the thought of one less "illegal," but of course they would rather Arizonans pay for pregnancy termination than they.
But mostly, they think that Brown looks better naked.
And, they think Coakley is a Yankees fan.
I too think Brown looks better naked and that Coakley just may be a Yankees fan. Or at least, not a Red Sox fan. Clearly.
But I also think that Coakley is fighting to maintain the law of the land in protecting existing reproductive rights. I also believe that all people deserve affordable quality healthcare. I know that consumers need the protection of financial regulations to ensure that Wall Street tycoons don't gamble away middle-class retirement funds again. I also know that Brown will, as he has vowed to do, act as yet another obstructionist on Capitol Hill, serving neither the good people of Massachusetts nor the nation.
Martha Coakley isn't the liberal that my bleeding heart wishes she were. I have serious questions about some decisions she made as a prosecutor. She has run a dismal campaign. She seems almost inexplicably uninspired and uninspiring.
But true enough to the liberal ideals of Jack, Bobby and Teddy Kennedy, I believe that as a lawmaker, Coakley will work for economic equality. I take her at her word when she vows to fight for working people, to protect women's rights, to advance a progressive health care agenda that will cover millions more uninsured Americans. She will assist, rather than obstruct, her president with an agenda that strives to improve conditions at home and abroad.
Look, I don't want to diminish the pain that people are feeling in Massachusetts and all around the country. Our unemployment rate is double digits, poverty and hunger and homelessness are rising at alarming rates. We're in a mess. We inherited a mess. But it was a mess made of the very same policies that Brown's naked body has folks salivating for. He is tapping into fear and he represents what is seen as change. Folks are desperate and afraid. Brown is tall, commanding and handsome. He is taking the failed policies of the Bush Administration and repackaging them into Hot Guy Has New Ideas That Will Save Us.
My advice to my friends in Massachusetts today-- Take a cold shower, then go to the polls with your priorities set on helping our ailing country to rebuild, recover and thrive.