On Tuesday, Massachusetts will choose a successor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy in a special election that could also turn out to have tragic and ironic consequences.
The contest pits State Senator Scott Brown, the Republican, against Democrat Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general.
The central issue of the campaign is health care reform. If he’s elected, Brown could reduce the Democrats’ crucial 60-vote margin in the Senate by one … and that could be enough to block health care reform altogether.
Brown says, if elected, he will do exactly that. They already have universal health care in Massachusetts by state law. So he is saying to Massachusetts voters, you’re already covered, so why should you pay more – an arguable point, by the way – just so people in the other 49 states can get health insurance.
That’s what I find so infuriating. Brown is skating right past the intellectual or ideological arguments and appealing directly to the most selfish instincts of the electorate. You’ve already got yours, who cares if others will be denied theirs?
And the ultimate irony is that – should this miserable bozo be elected – he will be assuming the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy, who fought most of his career to see that all Americans had access to decent health insurance.
Tuesday’s vote will not only pick a new U.S. Senator. It will tell us a great deal about the people of Massachusetts.