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By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

1/20/2010 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Boston Tea Party. The emergence of the Independent voter in the two Commonwealth States of Virginia and Massachusetts will become the story of the campaigns of 2010 and 2012.

The election in Massachusetts signals a major shift in the sentiment of US voters. It is not a sign of a new partisan movement, but a movement away from many of the big government approaches of the current administration.

The election in Massachusetts signals a major shift in the sentiment of US voters. It is not a sign of a new partisan movement, but a movement away from many of the big government approaches of the current administration.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/20/2010 (5 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


BOSTON, MASS (Catholic Online) – In what only weeks ago would have been considered an impossible outcome, Scott Brown, the Republican candidate in the contest to fill the seat held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy for a half a century, has soundly defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. The major networks waited until almost 70% of the votes were in to call the election. Martha Coakley conceded when 75% of the votes were tallied.

Many of the pundits seemed almost flabbergasted at the substantive victory of a Republican candidate in what is always referred to as “liberal” Massachusetts. All throughout the coverage of the last few days, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was called “the bluest of blue States.” After all, it has not elected a Republican Senator in a very long time.

Senator-Elect Brown pledged to use his place as the 41st Republican in the 100 member US Senate to block the current version of health care reform. He campaigned against big government solutions, excessive taxation and Washington politics. His demeanor and his message drew support from Republicans and Democrats in Massachusetts. But the real story is how he captured the large base of Independent voters.

Democrats were counting on a victory by Martha Coakley to thwart any filibusters by the Republicans over the current Health Care Legislation. Clearly, the results of this election were not only disappointing to the White House but have set the National Democratic leadership into a tailspin. There is a frenzy of analysis and planning underway as to how to respond to this devastating defeat.

As someone born and raised in Massachusetts, I was not surprised. Many observers fail to understand that over 50% of Massachusetts voters are Independents. Growing up my parents prided themselves on being “independent”, though they usually voted for the Democratic candidate. That was back when “liberal” meant something entirely different than what it has now become. Back then the late Senator Ted Kennedy opposed the taking of the lives of children in the womb by abortion. Any compassionate liberal did…back then.

This devastating loss to the Democratic Party is a direct reflection on the serious discontent and disillusionment among many former supporters of the President. It shows a growing rejection of several of the policies of the Obama administration. The President campaigned aggressively for Martha Coakley over the weekend in the Bay State. That now makes him “0 for 2” in his efforts to prevent what appears to be a backlash against his policies.

Just this past weekend I attended the inauguration of Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. The President personally campaigned for the Governors' opponent, Democrat Creigh Deeds, in the gubernatorial race. Governor McDonnell went on to win that election by one of the largest percentages in Virginia history.

Once again, it was the vote of Independents in Virginia who responded to Governor McDonnell’s message of economic opportunity and bottom up governance. Independents appear to be emerging as the most important group of voters in the electorate as the Nation moves toward the 2010 midterm elections. The election in Massachusetts clearly sends a signal that they have turned against the policies of the Obama Administration.

Catholics and other Christians were furious with Martha Coakley, a professing Catholic. She overtly opposed conscience rights for Pro-Life health care professionals. She espoused the kind of “anti-Catholic” rhetoric that has come to characterize the scandalous posture taken by too many Catholics in public life.

Scott Brown, a Protestant, was not a Pro-Life candidate. However, his positions on some pro-life issues were superior to his allegedly Catholic opponent. Important to many Pro-Life voters in Massachusetts, he pledged to oppose the current version of the so called “Health Care Reform.” The Plan before the Senate will fund abortions with federal dollars if passed and cause a serious expansion of the killing of children in the womb.

On the day before the anniversary of the swearing in of President Barack Obama, the people of blue collar Massachusetts have sent a strong message. They showed that there is a growing angst in the US electorate over the economy, unemployment, bailouts, deficits and the expansion of the power and role of the federal government.

This special election in Massachusetts will be the subject of continuing speculation among the pundits for months. Already, the finger- pointing has begun in efforts to assess blame. Whether it will spark a wave of retirements among Democrats whose seats are up this year and whether it signals a national trend against the Democratic Party are just two of the many topics which will serve as fodder for talking heads in the days ahead.

However, there is no doubt that Senator Elect Brown’s significant victory is a wake up call to the current national leadership of the Democratic Party. Several media personalities who not only disparaged Scott Brown but ruthlessly savaged him will be eating a lot of crow. Their commentary will most certainly be played over and over again as the pundit class smells blood in the waters.

What is also clear is that the election in Massachusetts signals a major shift in the sentiment of US voters. It is not a sign of a new partisan movement, but a movement away from many of the big government approaches of the current administration. The emergence of the Independent voter in the two Commonwealth States of Virginia and Massachusetts will become the story of the campaigns of 2010 and 2012.

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