Whether or not Republican Scott Brown captures the Senate seat in Massachusetts today, his surging and successful campaign is a fire bell in the night for the Party of Government.
For Brown has run as an independent, an outsider, a protest candidate. His principal target: the health care reform bill that is the altarpiece of the Barack Obama presidency and lifetime achievement of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
For a full year, Obama, Reid, Pelosi and the leading acolytes of their party and media auxiliaries have been selling this plan as a historic Democratic reform to rival the Civil Rights Act and Social Security.
Yet in this Kennedy compound, the only state to be carried by George McGovern, people want to take this bill out to the crossroads at midnight and kill it. Brown made this race competitive by promising to bring the wooden stake to drive through its heart.
How Democratic is Massachusetts?
Democratic registration is three times that of the Republicans. The party controls both houses of the legislature by huge margins, and holds every statewide office, both U.S. Senate seats and all 10 U.S. House seats. Massachusetts is a Democrat fiefdom, a one-party state.
Independents, however, outnumber Democrats, an indication of the growing disillusionment with both national parties in America
What, then, is the message out of Massachusetts?
For Democrats, the only good news is they got this wake-up call in January. They are on notice now that if they push their health care reform plan to passage and attempt to ride to victory on Democratic registration this fall, they could be vulnerable in almost every state.
Massachusetts today is conclusive evidence that Obama and his party misread the election returns of 2008.
By November, George W. Bush was at 27 percent; 80 percent thought the country was headed in the wrong direction; 92 percent thought the economy was poor or worse. As James Carville said, if the party can't win with these numbers, it ought to go into a new line of work.
The one attribute Americans wanted most in its next president was that he be for "change." And Obama had cornered the market on change, while John McCain had voted 90 percent with Bush.
But instead of seeing the election as a repudiation of the Bush Republicans, Obama, Pelosi and Reid read it as an embrace of their wonderful selves and a national cry for more government.