In Massachusetts last night, candidate Scott Brown defeated Martha Coakley in the race to succeed Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate. In response, People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan called for progressives to respond with a renewed focus on shared values.
"The election results from Massachusetts were tremendously disappointing, but they should also be a valuable wake-up call to all of us," said Keegan. "There's no denying now that we all need to start taking seriously the power of the Right Wing to impact elections-and stand up against it"
Scott Brown repeatedly spoke at "Tea Party" rallies, where activists attack any efforts at health care reform and denounce virtually any government action as "socialism." Brown promised not only to oppose health care, but to prevent the Senate from even taking a vote on the measure. Groups like FreedomWorks, which organized early Tea Party rallies and urged right wing activists to shout down and disrupt town hall meetings on health care, mobilized voters on behalf of Brown.
"We need to articulate our values powerfully and make clear how they differ from the values espoused by politicians like Scott Brown and the people who support him," said Keegan. "Anti-government anger is a powerful force, as Scott Brown demonstrated, but Americans don't want gridlock. They want a government that works better for everyone. When we run on the core values we all share-fairness and justice in courts, access to doctors when family members are sick, respect for all families, economic stewardship that creates good jobs for more people-we can defeat candidates whose platforms are simply anti-everything.
"We have to give voters that choice. Democrats can do that by standing up for what they believe and demonstrating the values, not just the policies, that differentiate them from the obstruction and anger of the GOP. With a strong majority in the House and 59 seats in the United States Senate, President Obama and progressives have the ability deliver on the mandate they were given last November. Their future electoral success depends on doing just that."