ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Last night, Republican Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley in a stunning upset in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts. The seat, previously occupied by Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy, should have been safe for Coakley.
Brown's victory, by a solid five percentage points, reflects Americans' frustrations with the political status quo, and changes the landscape of our political universe.
Brown, who campaigned as a regular "everyman" and promised voters he would challenge President Obama's health care plan, is a game changer. Like a field goal before the end of a quarter, or a 3-point shot with seconds left on the clock, Brown has turned the tide in the match.
This is good news for dealers, and for small-business owners everywhere. Actually, this is good news for every American. Until this election, Democrats controlled Congress with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Along with their dominance in the House of Representatives, and their occupation of the White House, their hold on our government was air-tight.
Arrogance is terrible thing.
When you control everything, you don't need to engage in real debates. You don't need to compromise. You don't need to acknowledge your own mistakes. And Democrats didn't do any of those things.
They were hammering their health care agenda through the system, without regard to public opinion. With schemes like Card Check, they were repaying debts to the unions that got them elected. By refusing to ratify trade deals America had already agreed to, they were damaging our reputation in the global market place. And now they are paying the price.
As car dealers know, you can't over-promise and under-deliver.
Brown's victory follows similar races in Virginia and New Jersey, where a Republican upset a favored Democratic candidate. Americans are trying to tell folks in Washington something. Is Washington listening?
I hope so. After all, this is not a Republican versus Democrat conflict. This is a call for those in power to remember who they're representing. Hint: It's not a political party. Hopefully, Brown's victory will mark a return to rational open debate and sensible compromise. Hopefully, Americans will once again feel that whatever their party, their voice is being heard in Washington.
Until last night, dealers had almost resigned ourselves to certain political realities. We thought Obama's health care plan was inevitable. We thought Card Check would pass, and that our stores could hold unionization votes without informing us.
We thought trade would continue to take a beating, and that damaging tariffs and "Buy American" legislation were likely. We thought taxes on small businesses would keep going up, and that emissions standards might be decided by states instead of one national standard.
In short, we thought 2010 was going to be a tough year.
Now, anything is possible. All those issues, and more, are back on the table. This is how our government was designed to work, and how it works best. With checks and balances, and no complete power dominance by one branch or one party.