EDITORIAL: Massachusetts, a swing state

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Republican Scott Brown’s historic come-from-behind senatorial victory in the Democratic bastion of Massachusetts sends a clear message to the party in power: Stop what you are doing or face the consequences. President Obama’s big-government agenda accomplished the unimaginable - it made liberal Massachusetts a swing state.

Mr. Obama took office a year ago with a limited mandate, which was to heal the breach between the parties, to forge consensus and build trust in government through greater transparency. He’s done none of those things. To the contrary, the president and Democrats in Congress pushed ahead with a radical agenda that’s out of step with the American people. Instead of healing the breach, Mr. Obama widened it. Rather than pursuing consensus, he rejected compromise and stifled debate while the Democratic congressional leadership ignored Republicans and bullied moderates in their own party. The audacity of hope transformed into the arrogance of power.

Exhibit A is the attempted government takeover of the health care system, even though most Americans are satisfied with their current coverage. Democrats cynically exploited Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s death to generate sympathy for big-government care, spinning it as a tribute to the liberal lion’s years of public service. Yet on the eve of the final vote, with the bill hanging in the balance, Democrats lost Kennedy’s seat in one of the safest Democratic states in the union - and they lost it to a Republican challenger who made opposition to government health care a central rallying cry of his campaign.

Democrats and their fellow travelers in the liberal media mock the Tea Party movement, but it’s a symptom of the broad disaffection Americans feel for the hard-left ideological agenda pursued by Mr. Obama. Liberal pundits tried to explain away the implications of Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey in November, and those too were the result of massive defections from the coalition that elected Mr. Obama.

Democrats in competitive districts - like Massachusetts - are facing the most hostile political climate in a generation. It’s more dangerous for them than 1994, when Republicans won a House majority for the first time since 1954. Democrats should recall with some dread the tall timber that fell that November 16 years ago. Among the 34 Democratic incumbent casualties were House Speaker Tom Foley, Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski and Judiciary Chairman Jack Brooks. The prospect of sending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi packing will no doubt drive many voters to the polls for the midterm elections 10 months from now.

Since the president’s party hasn’t gotten the message, we’ll put it in simple terms. The American people want smaller government, lower deficits and less intrusion in their daily lives. They want a government that will live within its means and mind its own business. They want to be kept safe and allowed to prosper. They want to be treated with respect by their government, not mocked, blamed, taxed and regulated.

Mr. Brown’s victory is an inconvenient truth, a stubborn fact that the current ruling party cannot avoid. Massachusetts voted for Mr. Obama by a 26 percentage point margin in 2008. A year into his presidency, this bluest of the blue states is sending a Republican to the Senate who promises to provide the critical vote to hamstring Mr. Obama’s centerpiece legislative priority. If Democrats don’t abandon their radical agenda and live up to the promises they made in 2008 to restore trust and balance to government, the voters in their righteous indignation will do it for them. Just like they did this week in Massachusetts.

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