The politicos are abuzz this morning with the news of Scott Brown’s election to the US Senate in Massachusetts.

Of course, the meaning of Brown’s election won’t become clear for some time, namely until he joins the Senate and starts voting.

But in the meantime, count me among those who are more cautious in our optimism, for several reasons.

First, Joe states the oddity of social conservative’s uncritical glee about Brown better than I could:

The positions on which I find myself in agreement with Brown (tax cuts, gun laws, etc.) are trivial in comparison to the most pressing civil rights issue of our time. As a Senator representing his state, Brown is likely to continue supporting laws and policies that allow the destruction of the most innocent members of society. For that reason alone I’m not sure that I could have voted for him. I’m still on the fence about whether my conscience would ever allow me to cast a vote for any pro-abortion candidate—even when there is no pro-life candidate on the ballot.

Second, it’s pretty clear what Brown’s election isn’t:  a step toward new ideas and a constructive Republican agenda that will help Republicans govern should they actually ever make it back in power.  And unless they get some of those, and quickly, they’ll find that their stay in office will be shorter than they might expect.

Hence, I think the elation among Republicans misses the point.  The elections are still many months away, and there are routes Democrats could take to avoid a landslide–routes that seem more likely now that they are fully aware of their dire situation.

But even if it still happens, what then?  Contra Bottum, I’d rather not see Republicans adopt the Obama strategy to get elected:  change, for change’s sake. Running on opposition grounds might get Republicans closer to majorities–though apparently we already have one in the Senate–but a lack of clear policy goals with neither inspire nor prove durable.

After all, while every Republican candidate will attempt to claim the Scott Brown mantle, there is only one “41st vote.”  The “42nd vote” just doesn’t have the same ring.  At some point, people will ask what Republicans hope to do, and if there are no compelling answers, the status quo might not seem so intolerable.

But then, that has been the lesson of Obamacare, no?

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Matt, I appreciate the opinion; however, I think that the Gingrich era with the Republicans in a clear majority in both the House and the Senate proved that the Republicans are hardly an improvement in morals or performance.


  2. Jim,

    Yes, that’s why I focused on policy solutions that would actually help them govern well, should they make it back into power. Leaving that aside and focusing on simply getting elected sets Repubs up for a repeat–which I think is problematic.


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