UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media


It’s official. Democrats now have a “mandate” and “political capital” to spend. If you’re not with them, you’re against them. Bring. It. On.

Locally, Deval Patrick’s forward-looking, optimistic campaign crushed Kerry Healey and her talk radio powered message machine by a more than twenty-point margin. Nationally, Democrats took the House of Representatives and also the Senate from a Republican Party burdened with a foreign policy that, well, seemed like a good idea three years ago and a domestic one that centered on pork and entitlements for rich people.

It’s a time of reflection for Republicans in general, and conservatives especially. Their agenda has been overwhelmingly rejected on a national level. Tantalizing prospects have arisen for Democrats, who may now look forward to telling the Busheviks that the Republicans “moved too far to the right,” have been “taken over by their lunatic fringe”, and that maybe they need to move more to the left in order to capture the hearts and minds of middle America. The “conventional wisdom” (where are these conventions held?) has it that the new wave of Democrat is a different, more down-home breed than the party’s supposed liberal norm; but on the other hand, the pundits pontificate, the elections were also a referendum on Iraq.

Neither assertion is exactly correct. The Republicans beat themselves, yes- and remember where you were, because it’s unlikely you’ll ever again see the wheels fall off the wagon of a major American political party quite like you have the last few months- but they couldn’t have done so without the help of an invigorated Democratic grassroots that rejected the spineless, soulless “centrism” of the last few decades of consultant culture. The Republicans may have beaten themselves, but the victory by the Democrats was earned coming and going. The public secret is that the new brand of Democrats aren’t new at all; Jon Tester in Montana and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill are the sort of candidates that the Democrats used to run before big money sucked the soul from the party. You know the type: good candidates, smart, down-homey people who don’t have much time for focus groups or consultants, but plenty for their constituents.

If, as Rush Limbaugh and others on the right are fond of warning us, the lunatic left fringe have taken over the Democratic Party, it’s certainly cause for alarm that the Democrats had such a resoundingly successful election night. I guess we can expect the agrarian reforms and Communist gulags any day now. More likely, though, what Limbaugh and his ilk in the malarial swamp that is right wing media were telling us all along was plain untruth; liberals are not the cause of every ill we suffer as a society, they do not want to hand over the keys to al-Qaeda or destroy Western Civilization’s ethical code. Meanwhile, Republicans are not innately fit to rule.

Republicans didn’t leave their principles behind. Their principles were rejected. The Democrats beat them by offering attractive candidates with something to offer to an informed electorate. Patrick locally presented his message of hope so consistently and appealingly that Kerry Healey looked foolish in following this suspect “conventional wisdom” that negative campaigns “always work”. Negativism was defeated, and that is the biggest lesson to take from Patrick’s successful campaign.

The electorate had been coaxed, cajoled, hectored and harassed ever since 9/11. Democrats were soft on terror and had no plan to protect America. Democrats secretly hate the troops. Democrats hate the rich. Democrats, Democrats, Democrats. Now, those Democrats have an opportunity to maximize their electoral gains in 2008 and make the Republicans irrelevant for perhaps a generation. One could almost feel bad for the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages of the world, but that they so richly deserve what they have received. On November 7th, 2006, what we saw was American electoral justice, plain and simple. Sometimes, in its way, the system works.