Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Day After

I am really really depressed. As a long-time progressive, activist I’ve dealt with a lot of political disappointments. The worst was the election of Ronald Reagan and the loss of all those liberal Democratic senators. That one changed my life. I abandoned my left wing view that participation in electoral politics was a waste of time, and became a Democratic committeeperson. I have toiled in the grassroots (and more recently the netroots) ever since.

What happened last night in MA was especially hard after the euphoria of Obama’s 2008victory, and the probability that health care was finally within reach. Sure it’s not a perfect bill, but that’s how social reform in this country has always worked. First, establish the principle—e.g., everyone deserves to live in dignity in old age—and then work to gradually improve the legislation so more and more people are included. That happened with social security, with Medicare and it looked like it might happen with health care.

I received an email from a good friend who lives in Cambridge MA; she expressed much of the anger and frustration I feel.

From Fran Waksler:
I’m appalled at the outcome of the election. I’m furious at Coakley for not taking the election seriously and waiting so long to campaign. I’m furious at the DNC for not supplying support until it was too late. And I’m furious at (and very disappointed with) the voters of MA. The insult to Kennedy’s memory makes the Democratic loss even worse. I think my greatest anger is towards voters who only gave Obama a year and then faulted him for not having cleaned up Bush’s mess. Now, the day after, I can’t even listen to the news—any news—because I don’t want to hear about the election. I can see through my study window that tiny buds have appeared on the Rose of Sharon. I think I’ll spend the day contemplating them.

The line that jumps out at me is:

I think my greatest anger is towards those who only gave Obama a year and then faulted him for not having cleaned up Bush’s mess.

I’m trying to pick myself up off the floor and soldier on. This message from my friend labor leader John Meyerson helped:

Back off the ledge my brothers and sisters, the Massachusetts election was not about Health Care or even Obama and progress. The voters simply did not like Martha. I personally spoke to about one hundred voters and not one told me anything different. Mass was not ready for this election so now we all have to dig in and work harder and longer but no one promised this was going to be easy.

And from health care activist Marc Stier:

Attention please: the world has not come to an end. Health care is alive. The Democrats are going to lose less than the average number of seats in November. And Obama is going to crush any Republican who runs against him in 2012 because as even Newt Gingrich knew, while a party of no can temporarily embody the fears...

Marc and John are both smart, politically savvy guys. Hope they’re right.


  1. Thank you for this upbeat post...and it is, despite your stated depression. Like you, I went looking for something natural and beautiful to blog about, but at the end of the day, here I am looking to my compatriots for hope. I appreciate your words and quotes very much as I head for bed.

  2. Thank you, Fran, for expressing my sentiments completely, my anger too is at the voters and this unbelievably inept and insensitive candidate, even her concession speach was bizarre and had absolutely no acknowledgement for the havoc she created. Let us regroup and recover from this trauma.

  3. Yes, her concession speech was horrrible. She came across as totally clueless.

  4. It's reminiscent of Al Gore whining that Ralph Nader's candidacy had stolen votes from him.... it was MY vote not HIS. It wasn't stolen by Nader, it was lost by Gore.

    That self-satisfied, complacent smugness of those who know we are in the right has, once again, come back to bite us in the ass. There were Tea Parties everywhere .... where were the left's Coffee Klatsch's?

  5. Good point, Ashleigh. The Coakley campaign sure was smug and self-satisfied.