Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Take the voters for granted and you will be Schilling-ed! That is the big message coming out of the Massachusetts special senatorial election Tuesday.

President Barack Obama was swept into office on a message of change. He inherited a massive national debt, huge deficits, a crashing banking system, growing unemployment, two wars and a health system that leaves 40 million Americans uncovered or under covered. President Obama's message of change resonated with voters who flocked to the polls election day in response to his call.

But what has changed? To his credit the president got an economic stimulus package through the Congress. But its effect on job loss is negligible. Worse, the bill was laden with earmarks, pet projects attached by members of Congress.

The battle for health care reform has dragged on for months. While both houses have passed bills, there are significant differences in the two versions and it is unclear to most Americans what benefit either has for the country. Republicans have muddied the debate with partisan attacks and have failed to propose a viable version of their own. Health industry lobbyists working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill have guided the debate. Now Tuesday's Massachusetts election results ensure that the minority party will be able to block any meaningful reform. This leaves Democrats debating whether there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Meanwhile the American jobless rate stands at 10%, and the number grows to 17% when the underemployed are counted. The people are hurting and worried about their future. Most experts predict that job growth will be slow and many jobs will not return. There are urgent speeches about the problem, but words and patience do not heal the wounds of the destitute.

Banking reform has stalled too. There are complicated regulations and complex financial matters to slog through for sure. But the focus seems to be on executive compensation and bonuses, not on fixing the failed system that got us to this awful place. Yet an extraordinary number of Americans are on the verge of defaulting on their home mortgages.

Meanwhile the threat of terrorism hangs over America's shores as two costly wars drag on in distant countries with uncertain outcomes. How many surges will be needed before American soldiers will be able to return home safely?

President Obama remains personally very popular with Americans. What's not to like? And it is good that we have gained more respect around the world. But our domestic problems weaken America and undermine our negotiating position.

Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to put aside partisan politics for the good of the country. That is why Massachusetts independent voters, who voted for President Obama, voted for Republican independent Scott Brown. His message of change resonated with his state's constituents. That message was directed at both parties.

Brown's opponent took the voters for granted. Martha Coakley didn't connect. She appeared out of touch. Curt Schilling was a Boston Red Sox hero who helped his team win its first World Series in nearly a century. And that was just six years ago. Yet she called him a Yankee! She was Schilling-ed at the polls.

Come on Washington, it is time to listen to the people. It is time to put America first!

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