Massachusetts; The Aftermath.
One of the great things about the American republic is its capacity to regenerate itself. So, when faced with a mess of a healthcare bill, that doesn't significantly limit costs, tame insurers, hold off lawyers, release small business or deal with state-based monopolies--because it can't--the people can find ways to reject it. This is regardless of a preening and insulated political-media class that was careful only in a)pandering and b) trying to find a way to make sure that any final act would not apply to itself.
There are lots of cliches about New England, and any blog post about them usually mentions 'grit' within the first few lines. I won't avoid the point. Though some southern cultures revel in bull, new englanders in my experience won't put up with it, and the healthcare bill was a pile of it.
But the result in Massachusetts raises other interesting points too. It confirms in my mind that what those pretending to what Christopher Lasch identified as elite attitudes want is for the public to be mentioned, paid due regard--and ignored. American politics is full of faux populism, but when it comes to it, parasitical banks, automakers and energy companies, and retailers like wal-mart--are the recipients of taxpayers' funds and the media companies are their messengers. Small businesses, struggling workers and ordinary voters, in the political and media imagination are totems, except for one thing. In America, they can vote, in primaries and general elections, in ways that largely ignore party and that can throw up intelligent independent results.
As a general rule in life, stupid things that work are not stupid. Making politicians compete for personal votes when seeking executive office, which most politicians in Europe do not in any significant way, is costly, and 'populist', and as in India, or the Philippines, or Minnesota, can produce people with experience in entertainment industries or business but with unknown and unproven abilities. It can create dynasties, though elected ones. But it ultimately limits the harm that those in charge can do. It works.
Partly thanks to what went on yesterday, a 'crusading DA' who rose to fame by relentlessly persecuting a nanny, who waved threatened children on the back of a campaign for social-authoritarian state suspicion of everyone, and who went out of her way not to reach out to voters is not where she would be in most other systems--in office--but out. That's a victory for the American system. The awful healthcare bill, which I've blogged about before, is also out.
On a wider note, a disruptive and ultimately wasteful diversion into the 'new party' fantasy has probably also been derailed, as the Republicans have re-tooled themselves. The genuine anger of people who have seen twelve trillion given to a few well-connected industries whilst whole States like California go bankrupt and people get trapped between debt and twenty per cent 'real' unemployment has been given an outlet. Barack Obama has been given the chance every Democrat President needs to break away, if he wants, from his awful congressional party. Kennedy and Truman, remember, were at odds with most of their own; LBJ terrorised them until they turned on him; Carter gave in; and Clinton dumped them. Only Clinton served two terms.
I'm also finding the name-calling instructive. There's nothing like a bracing spot of liberal transference. Apparently, the voters of Massachusetts are 'a disgusting sinkhole of racism'; 'just sexist', Mrs Coakley being the eighth woman to lose a statewide race in MA; It's John Kerry's fault (a good general rule, admittedly, but overly flattering); and, apparently, Democrats are still popular because they are completely aligned in anger with Independents. Though that means, apparently, that they vote against Democrats. Short of it all being Chimpy McHitler's fault (because Democrats were keen to call Scott Brown a 'George W.Bush Republican at one point), you may as well listen to the Autorantic virtual moonbat.
The good lord wept at less. There is a wave of change from the independent centre building in America, and there has been for some time, as people sense that that republic still has a chance to save itself. People can shake off the green rubbish, the corporate socialism, the debt, the rampant lawyers, the cultures of grievance and rights and narcissism, or they can watch the republic go down in the warm and fuzzy embrace of some narcoleptic social democracy. Many haven't the time or space to rationalise, for they face foreclosure, repossession, swingeing card rates, and tax larceny on a grand scale. But they sense that peak oil can be a problem for others, and that they don't have to give in to Goldman Sach's vision of a world made only for BRICs and derivative traders.
Why should America go dark? They aren't encumbered by crazy schemes for world government, or regional political unions, or the utter madness of the global warming lobby. The States are still small enough to take back, and politicians, I suppose, dependent enough to give people what they want or be replaced by people who can. Americans are armed and in control of their own police and destiny.
That's the real lesson, isn't it? Whether you are of an elite republican tradition, and believe in meritocracy and fair markets, or a populist and consociational one and believe in the voters, or a cincinatiian one and believe in property, or a legal one and believe in the law, you have over there a chance to take the country back and to make all of the interests know that the Constitution is there for a reason. You don't need failed vice-presidential candidates beloved of the media but with no clue to speak for you, you don't need governments to talk down to you. Your future is in yourselves.
To coin a phrase, if it really wants to save itself, well--yes, America can.