We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us

Eighty-two percent of them said they want a public option as part of the Democrats’ health care reform.

Yet they just helped elect a guy who opposes the public option and the Democrats’ health care reform.

They’re Obama voters who cast ballots for Massachusetts ’s new Republican senator, Scott Brown. He promised to be “the 41st vote” against what the GOP slams as “Obamacare.”

The 82 percent number is from a Research 2000 survey taken right after the polls closed in the special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He championed health care reform, including a robust public option.

The poll was conducted for three liberal groups who favor a public option – the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and MoveOn.org.

Progressive Change says the poll number means “even Scott Brown voters want the public option, want Democrats to be bolder.” Thus, the Democrats should get busy and pass health care reform with the public option, Progressive Change says.

The poll number hit me differently. It reminded me anew of Pogo’s immortal words: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

I’m a union-card carrying Hubert Humphrey Democrat. I support a public option. But you can bet your snow boots if I were a Bay State voter, I’d have trudged through a blizzard to cast my ballot for Martha Coakley, Brown’s Democratic opponent.

Don’t get me wrong. The House and Senate Democratic health care plans don’t go far enough for me either. But I don’t see the wisdom of showing my displeasure with the president I voted for (and plan to vote for again in 2012) by helping elect a Republican who says he and the Democrats have gone too far on health care.

I suppose the pro-public option Obama voters who backed Brown figured they were casting a “protest vote.” I read where one woman said she was a “Brown Democrat.”

Motives for voting don’t matter when ballots are tallied. “Protest votes” count the same as the votes of true believers.

Other Obama voters helped sink Coakley by not voting. Both she and Brown said turnout would be the key in the election.

The Democrats hold a big-time voter registration edge over the Republicans in Blue State Massachusetts , though most voters are signed up as independents. Brown’s only chance was to turn out the GOP base and pick off a big chunk of independents – most of whom vote Democratic — and Democrats who feel disaffected for one reason or another.

A lot of Obama voters evidently did stay at home. The Research 2000 folks also polled some of them. Eighty-six percent said they favor the public option. I guess like the “Brown Democrats,” the no-shows wanted to “send a message.” No doubt Brown is thankful for their service to him, too.

I don’t know if Sen. Brown or his campaign staffers are planning to pass out Most Valuable Player awards. But if they are, I’d like to nominate the Obama voters who “want a public option, want the Democrats to be bolder” but who didn’t vote or voted for a candidate who is anti-public option and is the new hero at Fox News.

Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 6101, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 31 years and their teenage son

Published by the LA Progressive on January 25, 2010
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.