Critical Condition

Where Will Massachusetts Lightning Strike Next?

Pundits are speculating where the political storm that swept Scott Brown into office will strike next. It would be hard for strong Massachusetts winds to bypass neighboring Connecticut. After Sen. Chris Dodd decided not to seek reelection in the face of consistently anemic poll numbers, common sense dictated that his decision would pave the way for a Democratic victory this November in the very blue Nutmeg State. But common sense went out the window when Senator Brown won his upset victory in a state where only 11 percent of voters are registered Republicans and thereby stripped Democrats of their filibuster-proof supermajority.

That stunning victory transcended the campaigns and reputations of the two candidates. It was about something larger: the very fate of the nation. It was a referendum on Barack Obama’s radical big-government programs, and in particular President Obama’s handling of his signature issue, health care. He campaigned on bipartisanship and transparency, but these admirable goals were quickly jettisoned in an attempt to ram down the public’s throat an unpopular government takeover of 17 percent of the American economy.

The Bay State shocker may portend bad news for the Connecticut Democratic party. The dismal poll numbers that drove Dodd from the race may have been about more than allegations that he is ethically challenged.

The voters of Massachusetts made clear their doubts about the president’s agenda; the road the administration now follows will certainly impact the 2010 elections. A logical person would expect liberal leaders to get the message, take a step back, and reassess or start over. President Clinton was smart enough to do so after the 1994 midterms, and it saved his presidency. Every indication from President Obama thus far, however, suggests he is sticking to his guns and ignoring the concerns of mainstream America. His is an agenda that would put the world’s premier health-care system on a crash course towards becoming a Canadian-style single-payer system.

The current congressional leadership is also on the far left of the political spectrum in a center-right country. Ultimately, something will have to give. President Obama has thus far attempted to address this dichotomy by giving speech after speech; appearing on talk show after talk show; and repeatedly redefining and rebranding the issues.

In Connecticut, the last step of this process was recently repeated with the emergence of a new face to represent the same unpopular policies: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He lacks Senator Dodd’s baggage, but he certainly represents the same brand of liberalism. It’s substituting Tweedledum for Tweedledee. Undoubtedly, Blumenthal will try to position himself as more philosophically moderate than either Dodd or Obama, but in reality, juxtaposing the three politicians makes Blumenthal’s candidacy look like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

It remains to be seen how this bait-and-switch will play out and whether Connecticut is content to go with the mirror-image candidate. Lightning does not typically strike twice, and the election is still months away. However, if the political elite continues to ignore John Q. Public, the red storm that just struck to the north may lay waste to Connecticut’s serene political landscape.

– Jason D. Fodeman, M.D. is an internal-medicine resident at the University of Connecticut. A former health-policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation, he is the author of How to Destroy a Village: What the Clintons Taught a Seventeen Year Old.

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