Stunning. Scott Brown, down by more than 30 points only a few months ago, is the Senator Elect from the state of Massachusetts. For many months ahead, there will be much navel gazing and discussion of Brown’s momentous victory coming from both sides of the aisle.
Democrats will desperately analyze every aspect of the race to see what went wrong and many fingers will be sprained during the vigorous finger-pointing. The White House had already begun distancing itself from the anti-Washington referendum by mid-day. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs hit the rewind button and used his fallback excuse for any ill that impacts the Obama administration declaring this afternoon, "I think there is a tremendous amount of upset and anger in this country about where we are economically. That is not a surprise to us in this administration, because in many ways we are here because of that upset." In other words, “It’s all Bush’s fault.”
Republicans will look at how Brown ran such a successful campaign and won in the bluest of blue states during a time that GOP party leaders seem confused about how to harness the power of the growing activist energy on their side of the aisle. Not only did Brown win, he won with a margin that looks like it will settle close to 5-points, comfortably above the ACORN election theft threshold. This victory is a game changer.
Scott Brown and his campaign did what many on the right have wanted to do but few have truly understood; they put the components of a needed GOP infrastructure in place while successfully tapping into the growing populist energy and enthusiasm of a neophyte grassroots movement. Call them Tea Partiers, grassroots activists, or any number of coarse and insulting smears from the likes of Keith Olbermann, their power and impact can not be denied after this stunning victory. We saw ripples of the potential impact of this new element to American politics when it first emerged in the NY-23 race.
Brown — following the model created by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell — reproved that there can be a successful collaboration between conservative GOP candidates and the disillusioned but passionate and committed activists whose battle cry is simply, “Liberty First,” a cry that resonates with conservatives, libertarians, independents and even democrats. He tapped into, and aligned himself with, the clear distinction between what Washington is doing and what the American people want. And he did it all without the Republican establishment’s interference.
It is, of course, amusing, to hear the talking heads on the left bemoan the national help and influence, both in activists and dollars, that poured into Massachusetts. After all, it is the playbook they have used for decades. It is almost embarrassing that it has taken the right this long to learn that lesson. But the Brown campaign, quite simply, got it.
Regardless of how the left may attempt to spin this race as a “local” issue, those involved on the ground know this race had national help and national implications. People across this country are tired of their elected officials meeting in secret, ramming legislation down unwilling throats and treating regular Americans with sneering elitist contempt as some sort of provincial joke.
People all over the nation saw this election as an opportunity to elect a good man and send a powerful message to those peering down the barrel of the 2010 elections. Folks like Bill Hennessy, co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party, saw the potential impact and promise of this race before the GOP establishment even bothered to take notice and he first blogged about the race in mid-December. Tonight, he and other grassroots activists in St. Louis, spent the hours after the polls closed gathered at a Brown Victory Party at a St. Louis pub. “The line was out the door, I am amazed by how many people are here and how many people came together to help.”
A grassroots activist from the Midwest noted, “This race has been so invigorating for so many reasons. The Brown campaign has been so effective in both reaching out for help and in thanking people for their work. It is a far cry from the response we have seen from the traditional GOP state party here in Illinois. This was a clear rejection of the Obama administration’s methods and direction and it is a rejection of those who allow it to occur regardless of what party affiliation comes after their name. I hope those up for election in November are paying close attention and that they understand that they can say one thing in Washington and another to their constituents.”
Prevalent among many of the volunteers I spoke with last night is the emotional effect of this victory. They needed a win. They needed, dare I say it, hope. People have put their time, energy and money toward many races over the years and seen it either squandered by the party infrastructure or simply taken for granted. Beltway Republicans seem to think that the opposition is so offensive to their base, they have no place else to go. They have taken the precious resources of their base for granted. Brown’s campaign did not make this mistake and the results are undeniable.
Sam, a lifelong Massachusetts resident, said just after news of Brown’s election, “The voters have spoken about this race and this candidate. If the Dems play any games with seating Senator-Elect Scott Brown, there will be protests in the streets. Enough is enough, the people have spoken. Washington better be listening.”
For Rose Corona and her parents, watching the election returns far across the country in California, the Brown victory, “This victory means hope. Real hope. This is the first small step and it is only the beginning.”
And as Scott Brown said in his victory speech, “What happened here can happen all over America.”
Cartoon by Brett Noel