Politics is Easier to Understand if You Don’t Ignore a Few of the Rules
There are some facts about American politics that either don’t change or if the do it happens so slowly you hardly notice until the transition is complete. The first thing to understand is that the two parties operate under completely different rules. There are several reasons for this, but forget that right now. Just accept that it’s true. It is.
Another rule that accentuates the difference is that when Democrats run as conservatives it helps them get elected. Never mind that they never, ever, I mean never, will actually act like conservatives after they are elected. Running for election as a conservative is always strategically smart for Democrats. Again, lots of reasons for this but forget that and just know that this is as true and consistent as anything you will find in American politics today.
Now here is the one rule that only half of the political players know. This one is known by Democrats, but it seems a lot of Republicans either don’t know it, don’t accept it, or think they can beat it. They almost always pay a price for that. This rule is as follows: Republicans never, ever gain anything by trying to emulate the liberalism of Democrats. Democrats can steal conservatism from Republicans and make a lot of hay with it, but when Republicans try to steal liberalism from Democrats they create a stink bomb that everyone can smell and nobody but their Democrat rivals likes it. The Democrats only like it because it helps them beat Republicans at election time. When a Republican tries to get elected by pretending to be a liberal (or actually being a liberal), he or she loses. When a Republican is elected and then goes liberal, he or she is very likely to lose the next election.
It’s why my favorite Democrat, Pat Caddell, says Republicans are stupid.
Apparently, this rule is even stronger than I thought. I believed that there might possibly be an exception to this rule in a Northeasten liberal state like Massachusetts*, but it now appears no such peculiarity exists. How do I know? Simple, Scott Brown. He’s a Republican from Massachusetts who defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in the 2010 special Senate election occasioned by the death of Ted Kennedy. He ran as the Republican who would provide the 41st vote against Obamacare and uphold a Senate filibuster to prevent Obamacare from passing. He did provide the 41st vote, or would have, but Democrats always have another trick up their sleeve and they soon pulled a rabbit out of a hat by making an unprecedented and strained interpretation of Senate and House rules, finding a way to pass Obamacare with a simple majority in both houses.
At any rate, it was thought that Scott Brown was a conservative Republican and would vote with conservatives in the Senate on other matters. It didn’t take long for that idea to evaporate. Scott Brown might as well switch to the Democrat party because he’s voted with Democrats more than he has with Republicans.
And what has he got for that? An ultra liberal opponent in the 2012 election (he has to run again in 2012 because the 2010 election was just to choose a Senator to finish out Ted Kennedy’s term) in the form of Elizabeth Warren. She’s the whack job of “Let me be clear…” (followed by 5 minutes of nonsense) fame. If you’ve forgotten that, it’s at From Harvard Law — Elizabeth Warren.
So it looks as if the general rule I stated above may hold in Massachusetts as well as in any red state . There may be no advantage to a Republican like Scott Brown who screws the conservatives who helped get him elected and goes out of his way to help Democrats. Latest polling shows Elizabeth Warren has taken a 49-42 point lead over Scott Brown. If an incumbent held this much of a lead over a challenger it wouldn’t mean too much at this stage of the campaign. But when the challenger gets this much of a lead over the incumbent, it usually spells trouble.
I’m not sorry to see this. I hope she beats Scott Brown. She’s a complete liberal nut. Scott Brown thought he could ignore the rules, the ones that apply to Republicans but not to Democrats. So if he loses, he gets what he deserves. And so will the people of Massachusetts get what they want — and deserve.
No votes have yet been cast so anything can still happen, but it can be said that this little show by Scott Brown may be starting to give him a dose of political reality over wishful thinking, thinking that the rule of Republican politics wouldn’t apply this time. If he had held true to the conservative principles that he ran on in 2010 I believe he would be sliding to an easy re-election right now.
But now the people of Massachusetts seem to want something else. It reminds me of a quote from H.L. Mencken: “Democracy should give people what they want — good and hard.”