Scott Brown: the tea party’s first electoral victory

Scott Brown’s win in the Massachusetts special senate election could realign the Republican Party around clean government, fiscal discipline, and respect for the Constitution.

There is no clearer sign of an impending collapse of power and subsequent political realignment in an open democracy than when leaders of the ruling party resort to vote-buying, payoffs, misrepresentation, and secrecy to pass their legislative agenda and force implementation of their priorities.

If the healthcare reform bill’s $300 billion Louisiana Purchase and $100 billion Nebraska Cornhusker kickback – taxpayer-funded “help” for specific states to secure the votes of two reluctant Democrat senators – were not enough to cause revulsion, then the $60 billion union payoff late last week seems to have been the tipping point for national upheaval.

It has all come together at a time for the nation to witness the election of Republican underdog candidate Scott Brown to the US Senate in Massachusetts, a seat that had been safely held by Democrats since 1953. That this could happen in Massachusetts – a rock-solid blue state and center for the liberal establishment – is an extraordinary upset and a harbinger of dramatic change for the country.

This remarkable reversal happened because Mr. Brown connects with people across party lines with a straightforward, commonsense approach to the issues they care about.

His popularity increased daily in the face of his opponent’s attack ads because he spoke of ending back-room deals behind closed doors, cutting wasteful government spending, lowering taxes, and stopping the government-run healthcare fiasco.

His very persona suggests he has what it takes to stand up to the corruption of political practices and take on the Democrat establishment. Proud of driving a truck, Brown is the nemesis of elitists and openly offers himself as a lightning rod for a national referendum on the Democrat’s filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate.

With a single stone, this David intends to take down Goliath and kill the unpopular healthcare bill. But he’s not content to join a party of “No,” either.

He voted for bold healthcare reform in Massachusetts, and he’s said he wants to start fresh on a new reform bill in Washington – one that’s undertaken with transparency and bipartisan input.

At a time when so many people are out of work, Americans are rightly asking why the Democrats have focused more on healthcare and radical environmental initiatives than on jobs and the economy. Frustration with Washington’s misplaced priorities inspired people from every state to contribute to the Brown campaign.

People intuitively sensed that a Brown victory would be the exclamation point to the political upsets in New Jersey and Virginia a few months ago, and would inspire resolution to take back both houses of Congress in November.

America has always been unique among nations, with vastly different norms and culture from the world’s politically corrupt banana republics, dictatorships, and oligarchies. We used to take pride in this. Not long ago, it was understood that the United States was an exceptional nation precisely because its Constitution limited the scope and abuse of government power, guaranteed individual freedom, and provided equal treatment under law. Increasingly, many Americans have come to feel that the decline in civility, integrity, and honesty of government are related to the loss of respect for the Constitution.

The executive branch’s growing overreach – clearly manifest in bailouts and in attempts to remake the economy and healthcare in particular; the judiciary’s excessive legislation from the bench; and the legislative branch’s brazen buying and selling of gerrymandered votes demonstrate this disrespect for the Constitution and the need for basic reform.

The contemporary tea party movement was born only a year ago out of concern about abuse of power: excessive government spending, excessive taxation, and excessive government debt. The movement’s rallying cry has consistently revolved around protecting the people’s freedoms enumerated by the Constitution. The election of Brown on Tuesday was not only significant for Massachusetts and the tea party that helped elect him. It also has important implications for realigning the Republican Party around clean government, fiscal discipline, and respect for the Constitution.

It seems entirely fitting that the Boston Tea Party of 1773, which ignited the American Revolution, should be reborn and now recognized for its first electoral victory in Massachusetts, where it all started.

Scott Powell was born and raised in Massachusetts and received his PhD from Boston University. He currently lives in Washington State and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.


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