By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Last night was my idea of a good time. On the way home in late-day traffic, I listened to Ray Flynn, the former Democratic mayor of Boston on POTUS Radio on XM. In a fascinating interview, he announced that even he had voted for Republican Scott Brown, because Brown gave a voice to the millions who aren't being heard by the Obama administration: "People feel like their vote is being taken for granted with this powerful, one-party state, and with one-party government in Washington. People want a little coalition, and a little respect… I don't know how you regroup from something like this. There are going to be a lot of problems in the Democratic party from here on out."
Once I got home, I turned on the TV to watch Martha Coakley's concession speech and Brown's victory speech. (The link has the "as prepared" text, but it's MUCH more fun to watch the video clip with all his laughter and ad libs.) I don't know who wrote Brown's speech--maybe he wrote it himself--but I was jealous. How fun was that to write? Gracious to Coakley and the Kennedy family, down-to-earth, funny, he spoke to his supporters in the room as well as to the millions of us rooting for him across the country--and connected the dots, as we say lately, bringing it all together and explaining why people are frustrated with the kind of "change" we're getting:
"Raising taxes, taking over our healthcare, and giving new rights to terrorists is the wrong agenda for our country. What I've heard again and again on the campaign trail, is that our political leaders have grown aloof from the people, impatient with dissent, and comfortable in the back room making deals. And we can do better.
"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."
Then, today, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was asked whether the GOP will work toward healthcare legislation in the Senate, and he put the ball right back in the Democrats' court, where it belongs: "It's up to the majority ... They chose to go left. I believe they misread the electorate in 2008 and decided to pursue a largely, dramatically left-of-center agenda. We've said repeatedly throughout last year, and I'll say it again now, we're prepared to meet them in the middle. ... If you do it by yourself, the public isn't going to buy it."
And Republican Sen. John Cornyn put it best: "What is the message that the people of Massachusetts were sending? It is that they are simply fed up and tired of being shut out of the process. And what did they get yesterday with electing Scott Brown? They got a seat at the table, and that's what we've been wanting all year is a seat at the table where we can work on a bipartisan basis to come up with solutions to the problems that confront our country--nothing more, nothing less."
No one likes being shut out of the process and taken for granted. Ray Flynn is right--people want a little coalition and a little respect. I don't think Scott Brown is ever going to take anything or anyone for granted. Time for the Democrats to seat Brown immediately and meet the Republicans in the middle.