Let’s get this out of the way. You might not want to vote for Martha Coakley. You might think she deserves what’s she’s getting after an absentee, self-satisfied campaign (why should I bail her out?). You likely want to send a message to everyone from the attorney general all the way to every Democratic official in Washington, DC. Odds are you didn’t vote for her in the primary. And, you might be wondering if it’ll make a difference who wins this Tuesday.
You got every reason to be pissed, but it needs to be clear: not voting for Coakley is the same as voting for Brown. And voting for Brown is a very, very bad thing.
Does this argument sound familiar to you? It should. This is precisely the same argument conservatives making in 2008 when they thought about voting for McCain. They really didn’t like him, but they were going to hold their collective noses and vote for McCain, because voting for Obama would be “a very, very bad thing.” Sadly, for many the McCain stench was too great, and Obama won (a pattern that may repeat itself in Massachusetts, with Coakley and Brown as the stinky players).
As you know, I’ve been trying to convince myself for a while that, in a peculiar way, Obama is a good thing. Until Obama, people could convince themselves that liberals should be viewed by what they said, not by what they did, primarily because semi-functioning Republicans were there to put the brakes on the worst liberal excess. With Obama and the Democrats having power fettered only by voter dismay, not by effective Republican opposition, the country is having to face — for the first time — the reality and not the rhetoric. I think they’re finding the chasm between the two unnerving. And I think Massachusetts is the first place in which we’re seeing voters figure out, finally, that this is not John F. Kennedy’s Democratic party any more.