It's not the end of the world. Hell, it's not even the end of Obama's presidency. Politics is, after all, the art of the possible and good politicians like Obama can make lemonade out of pisswater.
So what are the real lessons to be learned from Martha Coakley's defeat at the hands of a naked teabagger?
1) Never ever diss Fenway Park, sports fans, or the Boston Red Sox if you want to win a statewide office in Massachusetts. Martha, my dear, when people are hurting, sports comes to the rescue. For most men I know, a sport if not multiple sports is a religion. Treat it that way. That means, yes, standing outside Fenway Park on New Year's Day, shaking the hands of every single Bruins fan you can grab hold of, and talking to them, answering and more important, asking them questions. You will never win in Massachusetts as a Democrat if you can't carry all of Boston, not just the quiet neighborhoods where you can throw cocktail parties and make fun of blue collar workers. Remember the flak Obama took in Pennsylvania for comments recorded in California? It nearly cost him the nomination.
2) Apart from Kennedys, Massachusetts has a shitty Democratic machine. When the chips have been down and we've turned to a Massachusian to lead the way, look at what they've served up: Dukakis, Kerry, now Coakley. And even Mitt Romney, to extend this to a bipartisan level. The MassDems ought to take a good long stone cold sober look at themselves and wonder if maybe they're barking up the wrong tree for campaign funds.
3) Democrats cannot win elections by preaching from on high. See point (1). The party faithful are not a homogenous bunch of sheeple, nearly all white and nearly all Christian, like the Republicans. We aren't as patriarchal and we are not going to be lectured. The only way Democrats win is to engage with the voters, face to face, hand to hand, heart to heart. That last is the most important. Listen, then speak. It's how Obama won, it's how Deval Patrick won, it's how both Clintons won elections. We speak of hope and prosperity, we talk about how Americans are struggling and how they will ldo better under a Democrat because that's what history teaches us. We talk about the values that make America great and how all people need is a fair, level playing field in order to succeed. We don't need to tear down, because we always build up. Hope was a theme of the last two Democratic presidents for a reason, folks!
4) You can't win an election in absentia. I'm not talking about taking a vacation in a truncated election season, altho that couldn't have helped. I'm talking about running a campaign as a surrogate for a beloved politician like Ted Kennedy. There's only one person who could possibly have done that, and Victoria Reggie Kennedy was not in the race. You want to flavor your stump speech with reminders of his tireless work on healthcare and how you want to protect that, that's fine, but don't make it the singleminded focus and the raisn d'etre of your campaign. See point three for what to run on.
What should the Democrats in DC do now?
I'd like to see them take off the gloves. This is the time to recognize that, while Democrats are not sheeple, elected Democrats have to be. Time to bully the Blue Dogs, and kick Lieberman to the curb, use the reconciliation feature of Senate votes and get Obama to release that donor list of his for robocalling on healthcare, on jobs, on deficit reduction. We have less than a year where we can guarantee even an eighteen seat majority in the Senate, so we have a deadline looming on us. We're likely to lose seats as it is, but whether we pass HCR or not, whether we get a jobs program in place or not, we're not going to lose the majority party status. So if we sacrifice one or two Democrats in the cause of advancing the nation, so be it.
Are you listening, Senator Reid?