Scott Brown is heading for the Senate. There are obvious consequences and some immediate beneficiaries and victims. The president, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and anyone who voted to support the ultra-leftist agenda are scrambling. The tea party protesters, the candidates with populist appeal (e.g., Marco Rubio), and those opposing ObamaCare are the most immediate winners. But the ripples of the Massachusetts Miracle extend further than that.
For starters, will another liberal Supreme Court justice retire this year now that there’s no longer a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority? Maybe Justice Stevens has had enough and will hang it up, even without the assurance that a sufficiently liberal replacement can be confirmed. Or perhaps he sticks it out. And should he or another Supreme Court justice leave the Court, Obama may find his choices circumscribed. An ultra-liberal or an underqualified but politically helpful selection (e.g., a demographically desirable ”wise” judge) may not be able to secure the needed votes. Obama may actually have to find an eminently qualified, non-extremist for the Court.
Then there’s the impact on the 2012 presidential contenders. Recall 1992, when few Democrats entered the field, imagining that George H.W. Bush would be unstoppable. The 2012 race may be the reverse — the field will fill up with those who imagine that this is the year for a Republican victory. I expect to see a long list of viable and semi-viable candidates lining up to take their shot at Obama. What have they got to lose?
And get ready for the media to descend on tea party protesters and conservative activists like anthropologists airlifted to a remote Pacific island. What motivates these people? Who are they? As others have noted, the press is suddenly a whole lot more respectful of those who organize, express political views, draw new voters into politics, and articulate a coherent small-government philosophy. Next thing you know, they might investigate a populist rock star who sold a lot of books and has a million and a half Facebook readers.
Finally, get ready for head-spinning hypocrisy and a spate of copy-cat candidates. Scott Brown had a truck? Other candidates will too! Brown, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie ran against Washington D.C. — so will lawmakers who’ve been there for years. The spin doctors and political hacks will descend and tell their clients that it’s this or that finely tuned message or a particular social network that’s the key to victory. Remember that stunningly great Scott Brown ad on taxes? I bet it’ll come back. What the hacks forget is that substance matters, and voters readily discern when someone is a conviction candidate or a fraud.
We’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Brown victory. (Epic? Historic? Earth-shaking?) But whatever we call it, we’ll see its impact for months and perhaps years to come. What we still don’t know is exactly how it will affect the political landscape and how far into the future the Brown political ripples will extend.