Do Republicans Get What Happened in Massachusetts Last Week?

Written by Jeff Johnson on January 25, 2010. Posted in General

We’re Not Going to Win 2010 by Default

It’s been wild listening to some prominent Democrats this past week who seem completely clueless as to the message behind the amazing Republican victory in Massachusetts. Some are arguing that their candidate was bad or that local issues mattered or that Obama hasn’t been liberal enough (or conservative enough). Martha Coakley, the Democrat who lost the seat, stated in her concession speech that she lost partly because people are “angry about our two wars and our inability to properly care for those who return home after fighting.”

I suppose there is some anger out there about those issues, but that’s not the tenth of it. The citizens of Massachusetts and America are angry for a much, much bigger reason: Government is completely, utterly and infuriatingly out of control!

People are angry over huge bailouts, sleazy congressional deal-making, massive deficits and a seeming belief that government should control nearly every sector of our economy. People are angry that their voices don’t seem to be heard and their opinions don’t seem to matter.

If Democrats don’t eventually get that, 2010 could be a pretty ugly year for them.

But what about Republicans (like me)? We better give some serious thought to what this victory means for us, too.

I’m already hearing some Republicans suggest that people will turn to our party in droves come November because of their anger. I might remind those folks that people were turning away from our party in droves only 14 months ago because of their anger. People are just fed up with what government does and how it does it, and the party in power in the recent past has taken the brunt of the damage from that anger.

Most polls I’ve seen lately show that the Republican Party is just as unpopular as the Democratic Party right now. In fact, a recent Rasmussen poll showed that more Americans would vote for a “Tea Party” candidate for congress than a Republican.

Bottom line: The voters in Massachusetts were looking past party labels. And these same “fed up” voters will be out in force in November and will not care much if there is a “D”, an “R” or any other letter after a candidate’s name on the ballot.

They will vote for candidates they believe will be responsible with taxpayer money; who will spend it as carefully as they would their own money. They will vote for candidates who oppose government bailouts of private entities and huge corporate welfare programs. They will vote for candidates who care more about doing what’s right for the next generation (e.g., not spending them into poverty) than about cutting a political deal or claiming a legislative victory. And, most importantly, they will support candidates who believe in the ingenuity of the American people and the private sector to solve problems and don’t presume that government is the answer to every single solitary difficulty in society.

If Republicans on the ballot in November represent these views better than their opponents, I suspect the GOP could have a monster year. But if we put up candidates who represent more of the same, and the Independence Party or the Libertarian Party or some yet unnamed party captures the support of the “fed up” voters, we will have blown an epic opportunity.

Republicans must understand the mood of people across the country and choose candidates accordingly. And the really cool thing: If we do that, it will not only bring us great success at the polls in November, but it will create the most positive change in government that we’ve seen in a long, long time.

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