Monday, January 18, 2010

Beyond MA Senate Race

Following are the observations about what is happening in the special Senate election in MA and consequences of that.

- With last PPP poll giving GOP Brown lead of 5 points (51-46), chances of this election breaking for Brown are high now. Another by Research 2000 showed it as a tie, but decrease in % voted for Coakley from their previous poll. No more it is less than 50% chance only for Brown win. One more poll is likely to come out and if that shows an edge to Brown, the probability of GOP win will increase more. Nonetheless, the political ball is with Tea Party now for sure, regardless of what happens.

- If Brown wins this election, he will for sure block Health Care Reform (HCR) and in fact he will be obliged to block it having fought the election in opposing HCR. If Dem Coakley wins the election, Senate could be okay for HCR, but House for sure will become more cautious in supporting liberal elements of HCR. In fact in any case that is going to happen with House members and it will be difficult to hold the Dem caucus in House together. So no matter what, one way or the other, what happens in this election is having the effect of going away from Liberal agenda. In that sense, the 'magic carpet' ride of Obama Election and his agenda has come to an abrupt end. If HCR fails, that will be a dramatic blow to President and Democrats. It will be cruel to this President, but there is nothing that can be done to change the reality. His Presidency will have to survive through this death blow the same way Bill Clinton pulled of in earlier decade.

- What is happening now, primacy of Tea Party and successful opposition by Tea Party to Liberal agenda; Liberal Bloggers like Ezra Klien, Matt Yeglesias, TNR all those folks failed to detect early on. It seems as if the 'high point' of this wonky, policy rich Liberal critique of political commentary has reached. In a way failure of HCR or chasms exposed thereof, is the high water mark of such progressive blogging. Lefty blogs like Daily Kos, Huffington Post and Firedoglake were all burnt in their craving for Public Option ignoring what many in USA were asking at that time - to reduce the excess of Government involvement in people's lives. Whereas wonky blogs like TNR, Ezra Klien and Matt were all busy in debating 'policy nuances' of HCR and failed to recognize the primacy of politics. So it seems continued American involvement of people may have to find new ways of expressing themselves and will have to adjust to the reality of 'Center-Right' polity. It is bit sad and disappointing that all these smart and lefty, progressive bloggers in the end are turning out to be a failure, unable to 'read' people's mind and hence failing to 'lead / guide' American Politics.

- The longer term and larger implications are very different. Congress continues to be good at 'obstructing an agenda' rather than delivering positively on an agenda. The undemocratic Senate (filibuster and disproportional representation to state population) is the root cause here. There is no chance that this government structure would change in America, no matter how much VP Biden talks about that. This is because, every ascending political party finds it unusually beneficial to use this obstructing mechanisms to gain the power and that is what opposition parties are expected to do. It is not GOP's responsibility today to offer agenda. No matter how much Andrew Sullivan says Nihilism of GOP, in Democracy that is what happens. The faulty structure of American Congress amplifies such behavior. This means Congress will continue to give up its role of making 'difference in people' lives and it will all fall on Presidency. Not only President has to win the national election and set agenda, President going forward will be fully required to bring in her 'super majorities' to get this agenda executed. This is a dramatic expansion of Presidential Politics and America is traveling fast on that road. I am not much worried about dictatorial ingredients built in such an arrangement because you have to imagine how towering such President will be - the one who wins Super majorities and gets successful such a vast agenda on her own. It will be multiple times Obama. The reason I worry less for dictatorship, as Tea Party and MA election show, this Union still has amber of electoral independence and political success by igniting that amber is quite easy; it will continue to happen (like Brown in MA - this is not Ted's seat, but the seat of people of Massachusetts.)

- On MLK day, all that can be said is what America needs is another peaceful resistance movement to change this Senate structure of super majority and bringing in the proportional representation in that chamber; if we want Congress to deliver positive agenda. Otherwise we will have to keep on waiting for 'super heroes'. We may like Obama or we may love Obama, but looks like he is not MLK or Lincoln - guys who pulled of 'dramatic change' in short period. Considering how rare it is, waiting for super heroes is never a good strategy and that is not where we want to mortgage America's future. Change within people by people for people is needed.

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