The Lessons of Massachusetts

By Newt Gingrich
January 21, 2010

Scott Brown gave a great victory speech last night after a tremendous victory.

He is an attractive, articulate, courageous, hard working candidate.

He had the courage to serve for years in a small minority in the Massachusetts legislature.

He had the courage to serve for 20 years and become a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army Reserve.

He had the courage to run for the Senate seat which no Republican has won since Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1946 (in a state where the last Republican Senator, Ed Brooke, was elected in 1972).

He had the courage to run a positive, issues-oriented campaign (a lesson every Republican candidate should learn from this victory as well as the gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey).

Senator-elect Brown had the courage to cheerfully stick with his truck even under scornful ridicule from the President.

“The land of the free and the home of the brave” (as our national anthem suggests) has to start with bravery or it can’t remain free.

Scott Brown’s bravery changed history in the most consequential special election of my lifetime.

The following is a brief outline of nine key lessons from Scott Brown’s win.

There is a longer version of this article you can read at

Lesson One: Run Candidates Everywhere

The first lesson Republicans should take from last night’s victory is the GOP should run candidates everywhere this year and not worry about whether the district used to vote Republican.

In the last five days a poll has shown Tim Griffin beating incumbent Democrat Vic Snyder by 17 points in Arkansas’s 2nd congressional district.

In Cincinnati, former Republican Congressman Steve Chabot is now up 17 points over the Democratic incumbent, Steve Driehaus, who beat Chabot in the 2008 election.

In Michigan, former Republican Congressman Tim Walberg is now 7 points ahead of the Democrat Mark Schauer who beat him in 2008.

There are moments when history changes and the American people decide to shake things up. This may be such a moment and it means Republicans should fill in the ticket at every level in every state.

Lesson Two: Being Positive Matters and Congressional Republicans Should Take Note

In the three winning campaigns (Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts) the Republican candidate has been issue-oriented and had a positive message. In each case, Republicans drew a principled, issue-oriented difference between themselves and the Democrats.

The American people are genuinely frightened about the economy, about terrorism, about the loss of honesty and transparency in their government. The American people want a party which is trying to solve the things they fear, not a party which is trying to use their fear to remain negative.

An alternative party can win huge victories in 2010 and 2012; an opposition party will have far fewer victories.

Lesson Three: President Obama Has Had Two Bad Anniversaries and Now is the Moment for Him to Rethink What He Has Been Doing

The anniversary of the President’s victory in the 2008 election saw decisive Republican gubernatorial victories in two states he had carried.

Wednesday was the anniversary of his inauguration, and it was the date a new Republican senator was sent to Washington to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat, which Senator-elect Brown made clear is the “people’s seat”

The President now has an excuse to stop, rethink, recalibrate, and learn some painful lessons.

No more secret deals.

No more Pelosi-Reid machine votes.

No more leftwing, Democrats-only strategies.

The leftwing leadership in the House and Senate would hate and fight such a change in course.

Moderate Democrats (and most Americans) would breathe a sigh of relief.

Lesson Four: Republicans Should Offer To Help Solve America’s Jobs, Security, Deficit, and Health Challenges through an Open, Transparent Legislative Process

This is the right moment for House and Senate Republicans to offer to meet with the President and start a new health reform process, as well as America’s other challenges.

This offer to work together to help the nation would be well received by the American people and would represent a real shift from an opposition party attitude to an alternative governing party attitude.

Lesson Five: The Tea Parties and Populism Are Real

The Tea Party movement is going to be a major force in 2010 and 2012.

It represents a real uprising of angry and frightened Americans who are fed up with both parties.

It’s no accident Scott Brown spent so much of his victory speech emphasizing his independence. This was not a Republican victory. Only 12% of Massachusetts is registered Republican. This was a people’s victory—a genuine alliance of Republicans, Independents, and moderate Democrats.

Lesson Six: Trucks Beat Lobbyists

The strangest thing about President Obama’s ill-advised, last minute visit to Massachusetts on Sunday was his fixation with Scott Brown’s truck.

FDR, who was a genuine Hudson Valley aristocrat, would have instinctively understood to be on the side of trucks. Bill Clinton might have driven up in a truck.

However the elitism of the new leftwing Democratic Party—the party of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine—is so ingrown and so out of touch it did not understand what Scott Brown was doing.

Lesson Seven: National Security Matters

Andy McCarthy has a superb article this morning on National Review Online that discusses the role national security played in the election.

Every American concerned about our safety in an age of terrorism ought to look at Brown’s campaign and take heart that safety is a winning issue, and the left is absurdly on the side of putting terrorists’ rights above protecting American lives.

If you agree, I also encourage you to sign the Human Events petition protesting the civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (sign here).

Lesson Eight: Secular Radicalism is a Losing Theme
Even in Massachusetts

In one of the strangest moments in Attorney General Coakley’s march to defeat, on the Thursday before the election in a radio interview, she said although “you can have religious freedom … you probably shouldn’t work in an emergency room”.

As the left has grown more secular and more militant in its hostility to religion it has begun to arouse strong opposition. Among Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, and Orthodox Jews, Coakley’s position represented an anti-religious bigotry which they fear.

Defining conscience and religion as legitimate parts of America is an enormous winning position, and Scott Brown’s career had a strong component of defending faith and conscience even in Massachusetts.

Lesson Nine: The American People are Sovereign and When Their Leaders Infuriate Them They will Rise Up and Fire The Leaders

As it was with Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, the Progressive movement (especially Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan — again and again the American people find a way to overwhelm the establishment.

In America the people are sovereign. Last night reminded us it is still true. We remain an exceptional country of freedom and opportunity despite the politicians and bureaucrats and academics and elite news media.

Categories: America, Democrats, people, politics, Republicans | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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