That’s what so many of my friends and colleagues want to know today. I mean, how the hell should I know? I’ve been living in Colorado for nearly 13 years now — my voter registration in the Bay State has long since lapsed, but I think it’s so incomprehensible that a Republican would be sitting in Ted Kennedy’s old senate seat that people are scrambling for meaning.
I think this is my favorite explanation of what happened: the Massachusetts electorate got drunk on its own power, had a wild time with someone who didn’t seem to be taking them for granted for a change, and will now be deeply hung over for the next several years. I’ll tell you when I knew Coakley was doomed, though: it was when I heard that she had called a former Red Sox pitcher a Yankees fan. I groaned. “That could cost her the election,” I said out loud. It probably did, but as part of a larger picture of rash assumptions.
However, I offer you this Top Ten list:
Top Ten Reasons Not to Freak Out About This Election:
Ten. The runoff election legislation was stupid, and I think everyone sees that now.
Nine. People who are Republicans in Massachusetts are no more conservative than moderates in other states. Even Republicans enact progressive legislation there. Take Republican Governor Bill Weld, who enacted the Family Leave Act, which allowed for even same-sex partners to take leaves from work to care for each other in times of illness and not lose their jobs because of it — and that was about 15 years ago.
Eight. Scott Brown looks all right naked, and apparently, has a truck. Who was the last person in Massachusetts politics who looked all right naked? Would you have wanted to see Ted Kennedy naked in the last, say, 40 years? Think of it as an upgrade.
Seven. People think that active voters, such as the Massachusetts electorate, will just make the “smart choice” for the “common good,” every time. That, my friends, is crap. Active voters also like to let the country know they’re sick of being taken for granted, or that the “smart” candidate sucks in some way. A clever mob is still, after all, a mob.
Six. The next person who says it’s a referendum on health care reform should have his eyelids taped open and have to look at recent Ted Kennedy porn. That’s not what this is about. Massachusetts HAS health care! It’s about Massachusetts voters being annoyed as individuals. They are probably just as surprised as you are, each thinking his one little annoyance vote for the other guy wouldn’t amount to anything, and they’re probably already sorry and blaming themselves personally. And they should. Next time, they’ll vote for the common good in droves, they promise.
Five. If the people of the fine, fine, superfine Commonwealth of Massachusetts think their senator is not representing their interests, he is out of there, in a process that will likely involve tarring and feathering (wasn’t the Major Molineaux Tar and Feather Emporium the first business on the Boston Common?), and will make the California runoffs look like an episode of The View. OK, bad example: The California runoffs really were a lot like an episode of The View. But Massachusetts Boot-Your-(Nice)-Ass-out-of-Office runoffs will be a lot more like WWE Raw, except not quite so civilized and candy-assed, and with sensible shoes.
Four. Scott Brown and his truck are about to be horribly aged and unable to please anybody. In two years, they’ll both look like victims of a terrible curse, or like they’ve been trying to kill Master Windoo with The Dark Side of The Force. This is a state where, when someone takes your parking spot that you painstakingly shoveled out and placed your old couch in to “save” it for you (no mean feat, considering you are probably a middle-aged Irishman who is under 5′8″ and over 200 pounds, subsisting entirely on a diet of starch and fatty meats), you call your representative about it. Think Mr. Boxer Briefs is up to that? Either he is, and folks will be OK with the choice they made, or he is SO not, and he will pay. You don’t have to do anything — the Massachusetts electorate will take care of it.
Three. Despite any ridiculous commentary we’re about to see, the kind of teabagger who is welcome in Massachusetts is not the kind currently championed by Fox News. One election does not signify a statewide shift in ideology, and the Cradle of the Revolution does not appreciate hollow Tetley mockeries.
Two. Senate Democrats have now officially pissed away their super-majority. If they’re paying attention, it should now be obvious that they really must stop worrying about pleasing everyone right away, and just ram through the legislation we need, before any more votes about frustration come up. The American electorate just isn’t that patient. Ideally, this should get Senate Democrats on the stick, and that helps everybody, whether they like it or not.
One. As Jon Stewart so aptly pointed out: Oh, no! Now Democrats only have a regular majority and not a super-majority?! It’s still more votes than Bush had when he did whatever the f* he wanted.
Indeed. Why exactly are we in a tizzy?