As the dust settles from the game-changing victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts last night, political observers everywhere are trying to sort through the wreckage and glean some insights into our immediate political future. While there are going to many narratives constructed and discarded over the next few days and weeks, I think there are a few things we Republicans should focus on going forward.
Bottom line, it should be clear after the elections in VA, NJ, and MA that voters across the nation do not support the radical policies that are currently being promoted by the President and his Congressional allies. These policies, not candidates or campaigns or any such thing, are the common thread that binds these election results and they will continue to have an impact as we move further into 2010. However, if Republicans are going to be successful in 2010, they must also understand why so much frustration exists in the electorate.
Republicans must not make the mistake of thinking that we have all of a sudden won back the trust of American voters after getting trounced in 2006 and 2008. Independents are still independents, not Republicans, and they can just as quickly swing back the other direction. These voters are expressing their displeasure with the status quo in Washington by punishing the party in power, the Democrats. This anger stems from a lack of progress and a lack of focus on issues that voters truly care about.
These issues are jobs and the economy, profligate spending, rapid government growth, and national security. A focus over the past year on health care, cap and trade, card check and other partisan priorities has driven voters away from a Democratic Party they see as out of touch. Focus on the former set of concerns is what has been successful for Bob McDonnell and Scott Brown, and GOP candidates this fall would be wise to emulate them.
If, after 2010, Republicans can be successful in proving themselves as responsible stewards of the government, then they may be positioned to make a case for a broader electoral shift in 2012. As it stands, however, the Massachusetts Miracle only gives the GOP an opportunity to be heard. It does NOT entitle our Party to anything. Ultimately, it will be up to our candidates to close the deal by listening to their constituents and proving they can be trusted with the reins of power once again.