The Message of Massachusetts

What does yesterday’s victory really mean? We know by now that he represents the 41st Republican vote in the Senate. We know he breaks the Democrat supermajority that has prevented Republicans from being able to filibuster bills. We know he’s a conservative who won Liberal Lion Ted Kennedy’s seat in the bluest of the blue Massachusetts. We know all that by now. But that doesn’t tell the full story of the truly momentous change that happened yesterday.

The sobering reality is that this vote was not so much for Republicans as it was against Democrats. Frankly, we stand to gain a lot of seats in 2010 simply because we are not them. Rather than view this harsh reality negatively, Republicans must take it as an opportunity. This is a mandate to get back to work.

Republicans have been in the minority for the past year, unable to do much of anything beyond telling their ideas to the few people who wanted to listen and doing their best to save the public from the Left. Yesterday marked the loudest repudiation of the Democratic agenda yet, but more than that, it signaled that the public wants some new ideas. That is not to say that the Republicans did not have ideas – it’s just that the media had no incentive to cover them. But with Massachusetts acting as a mandate to pay attention and Republicans now wielding enough votes to matter in the Senate, the party can show it is not the “Party of No.”

Step one on the path back towards the majority: defeat the unpopular health care bill that does nothing more than mandate that everyone should have health insurance with no method of controlling costs. Step two, begin the process of crafting a bill that solves the problems with health care costs that we all agree exist. What’s more, do it in a bipartisan fashion. Republicans already crafted a workable solution back in the days when they’re ideas fell upon the deaf ears of a Democratic Party who thought there was no incentive to listen (turns out they were very wrong). Get back to promoting the small government reforms such as allowing buyers to purchase health care insurance across state lines. I guarantee that a capitalist solution that uses the principle of competition to lower costs will go over a million times better than enlarging the bureaucracy and making the federal government the de facto provider of health insurance.

The bottom line: Republicans must present common sense solutions that address the nation’s problems in a way that does not overextend the boundaries of government or mortgage the future with extreme debt. Right now voters are scared by the Democratic plans for the future of this nation, but if we want lasting change among the electorate we must show them that Republicans have better answers.

Democrats spent the better part of the last year arrogant because of their own success. They snubbed their noses at polls and ignored the worries of the average citizen. But arrogance is inherently nonpartisan. Republicans must work to ensure that they do not share the same fate. Just because our candidate won in the unlikeliest of places does not mean that we can rest on our laurels. The public’s ire is focused on Washington because they perceive nothing is getting done. Republicans must get to work to ensure they are living up to the standards which are now getting them elected. The message of yesterday was not that a Republican won. As Minority House Leader Mitch McConnell said,

“We need to move in a new direction. That’s the message of Virginia and New Jersey. That’s the message of Massachusetts.”