Mass. election warning for Democrats

Our View

Massachusetts voters spoke for the entire electorate Tuesday when they chose Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley for the vacant U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Edward Kennedy. The message was clear: Democrats are on notice.

As if dreadful approval ratings for both Congress and President Obama weren’t enough of a warning, the loss of a very important Senate seat should show Democrats that Americans want change, and not necessarily the brand Obama once called for not so long ago.

The election was a crushing setback not only for Democratic morale, but for the health care bill currently moving through Congress. The replacement of one Democrat for a Republican dramatically loosens the Democrats’ grip on the Senate. With 41 Republicans, a vote on party lines (an already tenuous assumption for Democrats) would not be enough to override a filibuster. Without 60 votes, the Obama administration’s agenda now has to meet the muster of at least one Republican senator.

Brown’s victory is a symptom of an even greater ailment for the party he defeated. If a Republican can win a senate seat from Massachusetts, a state known for producing left-wing icons like John Kerry and the Kennedy family, Republicans can win almost anywhere. The victory for the right could be a foreshadowing of future elections, particularly November’s congressional midterm elections.

Come November, the American people will have even more evidence with which to judge the Democrats in office. Voters are already beginning to lose patience with them, and the election in Massachusetts was just a warning shot in what could become a barrage of defeats for the Democrats unless Congress and the White House begin to accomplish what they set out to do when they took over from the Republicans in these past few years.

In the past year, with two branches of government wearing blue, many feel that the nation has not seen much substantial improvement (or at least not improvement on the scale expected by voters). Democrats have fought the Republicans with arguments about how fixing the economy takes time and that most of the problems were inherited from the Bush era, but Massachusetts voters demonstrated that those messages are not good enough anymore.

If Democrats want to keep their solid majority in Congress and eventually hang on to the presidency for another four years, they will either have to change the direction the country is headed or change their message. When a liberal cannot even win a seat held for decades by party royalty, the Democrats have to realize they are moving in the wrong direction.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.