The election of Scott Brown on January 19th is truly a remarkable moment in American politics. But unlike some, I was not surprised. Too many political pundits seem not to understand Americans. (And yes, even Massachusetts voters are Americans.) Scott Brown’s election was remarkable because it should be a wake-up call not only to President Obama and the Democrats in Congress, but all the writers and pundits who seem to have lost sight of how Americans feel about themselves and their country.
Brown’s election is the first time that many Massachusetts Democrats voted for a Republican since Ronald Reagan ran for President. And this tells us plenty. Reagan appealed to Americans of all political stripes (except the media and academia, of course) because he understood how Americans think. Reagan loved America. He enjoyed meeting his countrymen. He had an indelibly positive attitude about life, and about politics, because at his core, he believed in the principles that make America distinctive, powerful and prosperous – which is to say free - even while understanding that American isn’t perfect. It was easy for Reagan to be affable, humorous and grounded in public and in private, because he legitimately felt that way. Leftists and the media (but I repeat myself) characterized him as a dolt, because they confuse negativity with gravitas, and panic with power. And Leftists love to campaign and govern on negativity and panic.
The best elected leaders – like Reagan - campaign on a platform of positive principles, and voters flock to them in droves. But when there is no one who proclaims the greatness of America, and the unlimited resourcefulness, creativity, resilience, generosity and ingenuity of Americans – especially in the face of great economic or social challenges -- then yes, voters can and will gravitate to the naysayers, the complainers, and the woe-is-you career politicians who build their empires on the backs of the poor and the ignorant, and whose policies keep those same people poor and ignorant.
Laura Hollis is an Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law. She is the author of the forthcoming publication, “Start Up, Screw Up, Scale Up: What Government Can Learn From the Best Entrepreneurs,” © 2014. Her opinions are her own, and do not reflect the position of the university. Follow her on Twitter: @LauraHollis61.