Sitting here in my home office in Massachusetts today, I’m not surprised State Senator Scott Brown won late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat…his momentum has been brewing for weeks and yesterday’s results should not have come as a surprise to anyone in Massachusetts or across the country.
This is clearly a day of reflection for some old time Massachusetts residents. Many still want to hold on to that old belief that Massachusetts is firmly Democratic. Given that there are more Independent voters than either Democrats or Republicans, that’s clearly no longer the case and this election has proven that we’re becoming a nation of people concerned more about ideas, concepts and how we live over politics…finally!
One of Brown’s cornerstone messages was health care and the health care bill on the table in Washington. In concert with his growing popularity has been brewing concern and disapproval for that bill, as shown the week by an ABCNews/Washington Post Poll noting that 51% of those polled nationally are still not in favor of the proposed plan.
Brown’s victory is sending a ripple across the country causing politicians and voters alike to pause and consider whether this health care reform plan is the to push through. I have to admit, I have my doubts. I’m for health care reform but it has to be the right reform for the right reasons and I’m not sure the proposed plan reforms the areas we need addressed to make the changes we really need as doctors and patients.
I’m not alone in my skepticism. Before Brown one and only hours after, politicians began to offer alternatives to the plan on the table. On CNN Politics, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, noted:
“Large numbers of independent voters saying they’re upset about health care, that’s not just their fault, that’s our fault too. And we have to think about what we’re doing wrong here, and to have a conversation as if nothing happened, whether you’re in Massachusetts or not, is being tone deaf.”
This is the response the country needs right now – a thoughtful step back…not a pushing forward of a health care plan that no one is comfortable because promises were made a year ago and a big speech is on the horizon. To suggest that the current bill is “better than nothing”, as House Majority Leader Hoyer, D-Maryland, told CNN, is disrespectful to the people who not only elected them and a clear indicator that this is about politics, not true health care reform.
The Democrats keep invoking the words and memory of Ted Kennedy. If they truly want to honor his memory, they should listen to the uprising of voices the results of yesterday’s senate race in Massachusetts represents. They should be respectful of the polls and many interviews with other politicians and people clearly indicating lack of support for this current health care reform plan, and take a huge step back to regroup a bit. I truly believe that is what Senator Kennedy would be advising because he would want a plan that actually not only helps people but that the people are comfortable with and support. And, he would want his colleagues to vote in a health care reform plan for the right reasons…and not because it is on the agenda or facing an artificial deadline.
Both Brown and Coakley said last night “the people have spoken”. Both noted the incredible discontent of people in Massachusetts and across the country, especially on health care. The question today is whether the “machine”, as Brown put it last night, in Washington is truly listening and willing to actually act as representatives for the people. If the politicians started doing that, perhaps more races would go their way.