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The People's Seat

By Matt Smith

The shot heard ‘round the world’ has now come from Massachusetts twice. Two weeks ago very few people were talking about the special election in Massachusetts. Conventional wisdom had taken over that the Bay State would remain blue and a Democrat would occupy the Senate seat just like one has since the 1950s. The Washington Post print edition this morning reads “Republican wins Kennedy’s seat”. The headline alone confirms the media and liberal elite of Washington missed the point of last night’s Massachusetts Senate Election.

A key turning point in the campaign for Scott Brown was during the last debate on January 10, when in response to the opening question regarding “Ted Kennedy’s seat,” he responded, “This is not Ted Kennedy’s seat, this seat belongs to the people of the State of Massachusetts.” When you look at the statewide results there is no denying the people of the Commonwealth agreed with Scott Brown that the seat belonged to them.

Even though he was overcome at times by excitement, and broke his momentum by straying into awkward areas of his victory speech when discussing his daughters’ relationship status, and giving a shout out to Doug Flutie, Scott Brown listened effectively on the campaign trail and captured the sentiment of the voters when he said,“They thought you were on board with all of their ambitions. They thought they owned your vote. They thought they couldn’t lose. But tonight you, and you, and you have set them straight.”

According to Rasmussen Reports: “Brown pulled off the upset in large part because he won unaffiliated voters by a 73% to 25% margin. The senator-elect also picked up 23% of the vote from Democrats.” Rasmussen goes on to further cite the Brown votes were composed of 76% of voters who said they voted for Brown; 21% voted against Coakley; and 3% were not sure about the question.

So what now?

The wave of the Scott Brown victory is already starting to settle.  On the Republican side – the Brown success is going to have many parents in the coming weeks as the political-class reaches for his victory coattails; on the Democrat side the loss will become the weird relative you do not want to acknowledge. Even before the polls had closed, Obama aides and Democrat party strategists were blaming the Coakley campaign for not following their playbook. If Martha Coakley needs someone to commiserate with she might want to call Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds who received the same treatment from Team Obama back in November. The White House, insisting candidates follow the Obama playbook, is a flawed strategy. The Obama playbook is much like a complicated NFL offense where only one type of quarterback can succeed and eventually the other team recognizes the formations.

President Obama has gone from some of the highest approval ratings entering office to the highest disapproval rating of any president after one year in office. Unfortunately for Team Obama, members of his own party are already signaling they might not be able to stay on board with the president’s agenda or approach. Senators Evan Bayh (D, Indiana) and Jim Webb (D, Virginia), both from historically Republican leaning states who have enjoyed similar victories to Scott Brown’s during different times, have made cautionary statements to the media following the Massachusetts results.

Perennial potential-vice presidential candidate, Evan Bayh, is quoted by ABC News saying, “There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” [but] “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up.” Senator Webb is quoted in Politico saying, “In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”

The consistent assessment from the punditry class agrees with Senator Bayh about the Massachusetts results being a “wake-up call” for Democrats. Americans still personally like the president, but they increasingly disagree with his policies. Following the results though, David Axelrod, President Obama’s chief political strategist, boldly stated the president will stick to his agenda despite the defeat in Massachusetts. President Obama delivers his first State of the Union January 27. His aides are sending the signal that he does not plan to re-load which leads one to think he believes his oratory skills and leadership can right his party’s ship. They must have been watching the American Idol try-outs in Chicago instead of the returns. The vote in Massachusetts was about a strong candidate who listened to the electorate and the rejection of one party pushing the envelope too far with their radical agenda.

Scott Brown concluded his victory remarks by speaking to the national audience he knew was covering his remarks:

“Across this country, we are united by basic convictions that need only to be clearly stated to win a majority. If anyone still doubts that, in the election season just beginning, let them look to Massachusetts.

“Fellow citizens, what happened in this election can happen all over America. We are witnesses, you and I, to the truth that ideals, hard work, and strength of heart can overcome any political machine. We ran a campaign never to be forgotten, and led a cause that deserved and received all that we could give it.”

The Brown rhetorical approach is populist to the current electorate and might look familiar to the president and his play-makers.  However, after being sworn in one year ago today, the president and the Democrat party misread the mandate they thought they received. Their missteps reveal the flaw in the liberal elite thinking that they sincerely believe they know what is best. The American people are united by basic convictions, the limits they want their government to respect, and what their thinking about what is best for their families. The Brown race is a “wake-up call” in the sense that the people of Massachusetts reminded the elites that America is a government by the people, for the people, and they still hold the true power – this time with the 41st vote.

Matt Smith is a consultant in Washington D.C. and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison under President George W. Bush

Catholic Advocate, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, tracks the voting records of Catholic members of Congress, addresses current ongoing debates about Catholic political participation and more!

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7 Responses to The People's Seat

  1. Bruce says:

    I don’t want to be a downer, but I am not enthused about Scott Brown’s victory. Yes, Coakley was a disaster of a candidate, but Brown still supports the murder of innocent human beings, and as a Catholic, I cannot support him. I also could not support Coakley, which goes without saying. At the end of the day, if you are an unborn baby in Massachusettes, its still business as usual (i.e., say your prayers). Brown may vote against the health care boondoggle, but when push comes to shove, do we really trust a candidate who supports abortion and gay marriage? Really?

  2. Paul says:


    While I generally agree, we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Brown is a huge step forward for Massachusetts, and will aid in the recruiting of strong pro-life candidates elsewhere.

    BTW, Brown is against gay marriage.

  3. Steve says:

    Just to be fair, he is not pro homosexual marriage. Taken directly from his website:

    I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.

  4. Steve says:

    Is it any worse that the liberals think they know best or that the conservatives get told what’s best by clergy?? I like to make my own decisions but that’s definitely not how it works with religion. I guess taking all your ideals from someone else is easier but I”m still a fan of free thought. Religon uses “you have to have faith” to answer any unanswered question that might arise… This is a great two fold method that allows them to explain without eplanation and to make it seem that if you don’t buy into it you’re lacking because you have no magic “faith”. We’re all in big trouble as long as the two party system continues to divide this country. Both sides are getting off way to easy, it’s so much less work to just pick a side and blindly support it

  5. Tee says:

    I heartedly agree with Bruce. Were we so agog that a Republican was making a good showing against Marsha, oh, I mean Martha Coakley, that we did not adequately vet Brown, thus ignoring of his RINO staus? Perhaps the nude shot of Brown in Cosmo could have been a clue to his thinking, enormous ego. Were we blinded by the accidents of the barn coat and pick up, looked no further into his support of core family values, the ignoring of which will be to our downfall, and already is for he who has eyes to see .(For documented evidence on the demise of not only our country, but our Western Culture, watch the documentry Winter Demographics) Despite this, we wish Senator elect Brown well, and will pray for his pro life conversion.

  6. Larry Vote says:

    Scott Brown is the best thing for Massachusetts on last Tuesday. Period. Now some lessons to learn. When he won a special election for his Senate seat 5 years ago the GOP was not able to capitalize on his win and did not pick up seats in the November State House election. He was one of only 5 Republican State Senators in Massachusetts and has always been against Gay Marriage. He won that election in a squeaker but the GOP leaders did not want to credit the Catholic vote, the anti-gay marriage vote nor the pro-life voters who elected him.

    Scott calls himself pro-choice but votes pro-life on the very few things he may get to actually vote on in the near future like government funding of abortion and parental notification. His opponent in the State Senate race, Angus McQuillken went on to run Planned Parenthood.

    Martha Coakley was suing the Federal government to overturn DOMA. Scott won with Pro-Life support because his opponents were 100% pro-aborts who were in favor of gay marriage. Voter guides, church meetings and phone calls would not have been done if there was not a clear distinction between the candidates.

    The Democrats in Massachusetts think he is a radical just because he calls himself a Republican and because demonizing him by calling him a conservative is their gamebook.

  7. id says:

    “Scott calls himself pro-choice but votes pro-life on the very few things he may get to actually vote on in the near future like government funding of abortion and parental notification. ”

    But In Massachusetts, where the rubber hits the road, Brown supported government funding of abortions.

    Many pro-lifers tried to contact Brown to support their pro-life legislation, anti-planned parenthood legislation. He wouldn’t.

    Brown’s convictions about abortion are just about the same as Obama’s.

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