In a political year in which voters want to “throw the bums out,” the last thing any candidate should do is run as the bum.
That’s why Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, lost his seat in New Jersey in November.
It’s why candidates such as Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Republican Dede Scozzafava in New York’s congressional race and, yes, Democrat Martha Coakley in Massachusetts all lost.
They ran as bums – slang for incumbent.
One can only imagine President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, saying to anyone within shouting distance last Tuesday night: "The people have spoken, the bastards" – channeling Democrat Dick Tuck's California state Senate concession speech of long ago.
Races always swing in one of two very different ways: left versus right (ideological) or inside versus outside (disconnected).
Main Street’s outsider message to the Political Elite’s insider soiree finally has caught the latter’s attention.
Long before it became instantly vogue to recognize voter anger (which, apparently was just last week, when the Beltway crowd finally asked, “Hey, who is this Scott Brown guy?”), this column has pointed out overall discontent with both parties for nearly a year.
It is not a left-vs.-right anger so much as it is an insider-vs.-outsider, Main Street-vs.-Political Elite anger.
People have not gravitated toward Tea Party events because they want to compare the latest in anti-oxidant tea brands. Yes, some of it is about feeling angry but more of it is about feeling disconnected.
Both political parties are in trouble but Democrats more so than Republicans – because Democrats do not appear to be listening.
Losing typically makes parties and candidates better; they become sharper, more aware of the public's mood.
Yet the liberal blogosphere is awash with commentators saying that the Democrats’ problem is not that they lost independent voters in opinion polls and in Massachusetts’ election; it is that they haven't catered enough to the liberal base.
This fight has been going on among Democrats since the Democratic Leadership Committee was founded in 1985. But the problem is not that their party is not "liberal" enough. The problem is that their party ignores what independents care about: fiscal responsibility and limited, effective government providing more liberty – more "independence," if you will.