Why Massachusetts Voters Should Hold Their Nose And Vote For Coakley

Polls continue to show the Massachusetts Senate race  too close to call. As I previously discussed, the weakness of the Democratic candidate as well as anti-incumbent sentiment could very well lead to a Republican victory. Andrew Sullivan has several posts on the race, including ones I will quote here which provide reasons for voting for or against Martha Coakley.

While Republicans will spin a victory for Brown as a repudiation of Obama, one of Sullivan’s readers gave this reason for backing Brown, saying it is not a vote against Obama:

I was a very early supporter of Obama. I was living in New Hampshire two years ago. I signed up to go door-to-door to talk to people about his candidacy and in contrast to Hilary. I trudged through feet of snow in the week before the primary. I entered homes and had great discussions with my fellow residents. I went to Claremont, NH and shook Obama’s hand. I rallied the night before the primary in Concord. He lost the state but I knew we were on the right side of history.

I’m with you in thinking that Obama is the best thing the Democrats have going for them right now. But I also think that in having the supermajority, they actually undercut him. They don’t have to compromise and so they don’t try to. Instead, what passes as legislation is a horrid mismash of corporate interests and traditional, not progressive, balms of the Democratic Party. I know this country can do much, much better. And I think Obama needs a less powerful Democratic party to make it happen, like Clinton did.

The writer continues to argue for ballot splitting and notes that “It also helps that Brown has already voted for a health care plan with a public option. So to someone like Malkin who was ready to toss away a Congressional seat in NY for ‘purity’, I now laugh at their support of Brown.”  This is also described as an act to promote GOP moderation along with opposing “hacks like Coakley.”

Let me say emphatically that my vote for Brown isn’t a vote against Obama. It’s a vote against the Democratic Party, and hacks like Coakley, but also a vote to help moderate the GOP. One more New England Republican is necessary. Of all the places the GOP might find it’s path again I hope it’s from where it was born.

At other times I would have been more sympathetic towards this argument. I would certainly like to see moderate New England Republicans change the direction of the GOP. I also fear that once Brown is operating on a  national stage he will find it to his advantage to pander to the far right as Mitt Romney has. He may have voted for “a health care plan with a public option” in Massachusetts but is now running as the candidate who will block health care reform nationally.

If we could have a responsible Republican Party offering alternative solutions to problems it might be beneficial to have a Democratic Party which lacks the super-majority and force bipartisan cooperation. The problem is that the Republican Party now has no interest in bipartisan cooperation. Their only concern is to deny the Democrats any successes, even to the point of unanimously opposing a relatively conservative health care reform measure.

Andrew Sullivan appears to be thinking along similar lines. In some posts he has demonstrated the problems with Coakley, such as describing the flier which distorts Brown’s record on rape and emergency room treatment as vile. Sullivan also explains why he would hold his nose and vote for Coakley:

…there is the total, rigid opposition to any reform and any cooperation at all from the nihilist Republicans. Obama is president for three more years. He will survive. He may even prosper. But this really would be a massive blow. To get this close and lose health insurance would embolden every enemy Obama has, from Netanyahu to Ailes.

That’s the only reason to vote for Coakley on Tuesday.

She’s a dreadful candidate, but this race is now a critical battle in the war to rescue the possibility of effective governance. If health reform dies, it will show just how broken the system is, just how impossible it is to effect even centrist reform in a Senate this paralyzed, how polarization has made compromise impossible, how the country’s profound problems are simply beyond the system’s reach. If this fails, what chance for any action on climate change? Or the debt? Or some movement toward a settlement in the Middle East?

And if Obama fails, there are no Democrats able to match him. The nihilist Republicans would be resurgent, pledging more tax cuts, more debt, and no entitlement cuts, entrenching torture as the American way, and pouring even more resources into the indefinite occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The lesson will be: permanent political war is the only way. The only way to govern the country is to divide and weaken it.

Just like Rove did. You want that back? Vote Brown. You don’t? Hold your nose and vote for Coakley.

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