The Browning of America


By Raynard Jackson

January 21, 2010

The stunning win of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race Tuesday has sent shock waves throughout the political world.  But, as usual with tectonic shifts like this, everyone is totally misreading what happened.

Republicans have every reason to be crowing today and Democrats have every reason to be depressed.  I would call what happened Tuesday night the “Browning” of America.  The people of Massachusetts spoke with their votes that they are more interested in results, not party labels.

The problems both parties face is not with their bases, but with independent voters.  There are more independent voters than there are Democrats or Republicans.  In Massachusetts, 51% of the electorate is independent.  The “Browning” effect is going to force both parties to come to the political center.  That is the lesson from Tuesday vote.  Any other spin is simply nonsense.

Brown was a little known Republican state senator with an unremarkable voting record.  Conservative columnist, Kathleen Parker, has described him as a moderate New England Republican with socially moderate and fiscally conservative views.  Brown describes himself as, “fiscally conservative and socially conscious.”  Conservatives are going to be shocked to find out that Brown supports Roe v. Wade.

Brown provided Massachusetts voters (and the country by extension) with an empty vessel to channel their total dissatisfaction with Washington and the White House.  Most people have no idea what either Brown or Martha Coakley (his opponent) stood for, other than their respective positions on healthcare.  Republicans are concluding that the election was a repudiation of healthcare and Obama.  Democrats are saying that Coakley ran a horrible campaign (which she did).   While both statements are true in absolute terms, that’s not the message voters were sending.

Yesterday morning on a news show, Brown made it perfectly clear that he is an “independent” Republican.  Ah, this is the message to be taken away from the election!  Brown’s election is a dire warning to all incumbent politicians.  Americans are pissed at the dysfuntionality of our political systems and the seeming inability of politicians to solve problems.

Voters don’t feel like politicians have made air travel any safer than before 9/11, or made government work more efficiently, nor controlled government spending,  to name a few.  With technology, we are travelling at the speed of thought, but governing at the speed of a horse and buggy.  We communicate with emails, BlackBerrys, and instant messages; but our political systems function at the pace of a tortoise.

The problems facing Americans today can not be solved with the pace our political systems are operating under.  Why does it take years for the simplest of legislation to pass?  Why does it take weeks for politicians to organize a town hall meeting?  Why couldn’t our government properly respond to Katrina?

There are a lot of similarities between Brown’s and Obama’s candidacies and ultimate victories.  Neither was given a realistic chance of winning; both were running again a frontrunner who had been all but crowned the victor (Hillary Clinton in Obama’s case); neither had the support of the party establishment.  Their victories both stunned the political world.

But, if Republicans think Brown’s election was a vote for Republicans or conservatism, they are greatly mistaken.  Voters are angry.  They don’t want to abolish government, they want effective government.  This provides a great opportunity for Republicans to have a discussion on what is the role of government in a Republican world.  No more campaign slogans like, small government, low taxes, and more individual freedom.  Voters want to know how these words translate into policies that impact their daily lives!

Democrats missed a golden opportunity to prove to America that they could govern, but as usual, they blew it big time.  Two nights ago, I saw Howard Dean make an amazing statement on TV.  He said if Bush was still in the White House, he would have rammed health care through Congress—it would have already been law.  Voters basically told Democrats and the White House that they don’t believe they can effectively govern; therefore they were willing to vote for a Republican to register their dissatisfaction.

How can you control the White House and super majorities in both houses of Congress and yet, not get anything done.  Obama, by far, is the biggest loser.  He has proven to be a very weak president because he refuses to make people in Congress fear him (especially Democrats).  Why have the Democrats not stripped Sen. Lieberman (I-CT) of his chairmanship?  He actively campaigned for McCain (a Republican) and was almost chosen to be his running-mate.  And he is rewarded with the chairmanship of a major committee?  This would have never happened in the Republican Party.  If Democrats can’t or won’t govern their own caucus, why should they be given the opportunity to govern the country?  That’s the question Democrats must answer immediately.

Even though half of America disagreed with Bush’s policies, they respected how he was willing to fight for what he believed.  No one will ever accuse this White House or Democrats of doing this.

With the high level of frustration across the electorate, people are distancing themselves from party labels and are more focused on who is going to solve the problems that this country is facing.  People know we are facing tremendous challenges and are not looking through rose colored glasses.  Brown’s victory is merely the opening salvo in what surely will be the continuing “Browning” of the American electorate.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).

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4 Responses to “The Browning of America”

  1. This is a very good write-up.

    What I think is that Obama got the big head, partly due to folks saying “he so smart… so intelligence … Messiah … The One”. Obama thought folks were so much in love w/him, that it didnt matter what he did. Now he’s been kicked hard to the dirt.

    I got feeling that Obama will NOT pivot like Clinton. Its up to Obama on how he handles this recent Scott Brown stuff & defection within his own party. O is gonna have to learn how to express humbleness & drop the arrogance.

  2. Being a native of Boston, MA., many should realize that there is more to this story and if Brown does not do a good job for this state he will be quickly replaced, raked over the coals and dragged out of his office kicking and screaming.

    Independents played a large part in placing Obama in the WH. They put him there because they believed that he would deliver results but they are now starting to wonder and so am I. We can’t live in the past of Bush and his cronies.

    Obama ignored U.S. soldiers and promised 100 million dollars to rebuild Haiti and this is great but until U. S. soldiers get the vehicle armor that many are complaining that they are still missing and we do everything that we can to help the 30,000 or so critically injured soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan this promise may come back to bite the Obama administration. We are hearing that until a large group of seismologists determine stability of the island after the intitial quake and (49), yes (49) aftershocks – should Haiti be rebuilt at all. If this goes wrong the Obama administration will be reminded about the 100 million dollars promised. Katrina folks still living in mold covered trailers, compliments of the U. S. government and FEMA are also wondering why G. W. Bush is a catastrophe representative of the U.S. after the poor job he did with Katrina and NO residents.

    It is time for Obama to stop playing nice, take off the kid gloves and govern with accuracy. He’s going to have to step on some toes and move things forward in unorthodox ways if needed or he needs to give up that seat. The American people are indeed angry, they want results and they want them now, not later.

    Any person that would accept any position at the WH after George Bush and cronies should have known this.

    It’s time to go to work, work together and get things done quickly. This bottleneck process between the Democrats & Republicans has got to stop or we will forever live in limbo.

    Can we get something done?

  3. Well gee Arlenearmy….should he shuffle his feet and not look anyone in the eye again too??

  4. Greet post this will help me!

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