Next Tuesday, Massachusetts voters go to the polls to elect the replacement for senatorial seat occupied by the late Senator Edward Kennedy for 37 years. Big shoes to fill and even bigger stakes.
What was supposed to be a cake walk for Democratic nominee Martha Coakley against Republican Scott Brown has turned out to be a tight race, according to the polls. Ever since Brown pledged to be the 41st vote against healthcare reform (see video below), the race has taken on national implications.
Consider this: healthcare reform down the tubes could mean the same for Obama. The defeat of healthcare reform from losing the 60-seat Democratic majority in the Senate could be disastrous for the President. But the political implications aren't the only reason to be frightened by the ascendancy of Scott Brown.
Massachusetts is a world leader in research, healthcare, innovation, education and thinking outside the box. The state's main exports to the world are brainpower and new ideas. Even past elected Republicans save Mitt Romney have been liberal thinkers.
Electing someone who recites the strictures of the "Party of No" diminishes that special and unique standing. Just consider what Massachusetts has already done for healthcare reform with its novel and successful programs.
Even if she is a bit dull personally, Coakley is more simpatico on issues that nurture science and technology. She endorses science- backed initiatives such as clean energy, combatting global warming, cap and trade and innovation in education. If Brown said he supports those things and he doesn't, his web site "issues" page is starkly thin. He devotes a mere paragraph to each mega topic and "Energy and Environment" is no exception. It gets 95 words.
He says he supports a "common sense approach" to environmental protection and the "reasonable and appropriate development" of alternative energy. That's code for don't spend any government money on the environment and energy. The foundation of his appeal is the tired anti-taxes refrain. Whatever happened to government priming the new technology pump? That's what investing in America is all about.
Brown's obsession with anti-tax rhetoric betray his notion that somehow he's an independent voice. If he doesn't get elected, he will follow in Palin's footsteps and become a commentator on Fox News. Mark my words.
His strategy is to exploit statewide and to an extent national anger about joblessness and high taxes. Ok, but what comes after that? Where are the solutions? This emperor has no clothes.
[This post has been modified to include a deeper exploration of the issues between the candidates.]