With another 12 hours worth of perspective behind me, the Democratic meltdown in Massachusetts looks like the Democrat failure in health care reform all over again: a massive failure of willingness on the part of elected Democrats to stand by progressive values.
The Dems had a chance to come roaring out of the gate in 2009 and make serious headway on Progressive issues. They should have scaled back the wars, enacted some regulatory oversight on the banking and insurance industry. repealed DADT and DOMA, and created meaningful health care reform legislation. That's what they promised to do, and that's exactly what we elected them to do. We gave them a Democratic president, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the largest House majority in 20 years, and a mandate for change. We were very clear and cohesive for the first time in decades. We said "Get in there and take back our moral standing in the world and repair the damage done by the Bush Administration."
And instead, they wasted the entire year and all that momentum shuckin' and jivin' to the Republican tune, begging and whining for bipartisanship until their fillibuster-proof majority was gone.
All that compromise has accomplished exactly nothing except that they managed to give away Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican who vows to oppose health care reform. Ted Kennedy, who spent the last 40 years promoting meaningful health care reform. That Ted Kennedy.
So today while the Dems are all wringing their hands about the Massachusetts Senate seat and blaming each other, and the media is crowing about the voter's rejection of liberal values, I'm wondering why the Dems never did figure out what we wanted from them. Could we have made it any clearer?
Health care reform is essentially gone from the health care bill. It's lost any chance to control the insurance companies with competition from a public option, but does give them millions more customers by mandating coverage. We're still studying DADT, in spite of the zillions of reports and top military officials urging Obama to dump it. We're spending more money on the unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Oh...and Obama has declared his opposition to marriage rights for gay couples and his Justice Department is still filing legal briefs in support of marriage inequality in the courts.
Dems, voters are still looking for change. You've pissed away your mandate, but now at least you've got someone to blame for your complete absence of political will. Remember this moment. This is the day you lost both the White House and the Congress again for the next decade. Welcome back to the wilderness. It should look very familiar.