In my analysis immediately following the 2008 elections—which catapulted President Barack Obama (D) and large Democratic super-majorities in Congress into power—I made a prescient statement:

All-in-all, there was no ‘conservative’ on the ballot for us to support. The values of fiscal and social conservatism were not put to a vote this year, and I would kindly recommend that President Obama refrain from interpreting his comfortable win as a mandate for big-government spending programs or liberal social principles. (Emphasis added.)

Many Democrats, however, did apparently misinterpret their 2008 blowout as a mandate for left-wing programs. They kept the financial bailout machine going even though a lot of people voted for Obama as a rebuke of the George W. Bush (R) bailouts. They embarked on an incredible binge of federal spending, almost quadrupling the federal deficit in their first year, even though a lot of people voted for Obama as a vote against the Bush deficits. As if that wasn’t enough, the Democratic Congress embarked upon a massive overhaul of our health care system—developing a plan behind-closed-doors that a solid majority of Americans oppose and then trying to push it through with minimal debate and zero transparency.

In a very short amount of time, Obama and the Democratic Congress have alienated most of the centrists who put them into office. Obama’s approval ratings have dropped faster than almost any other president’s in history, and the Congress is faring no better. In the 2009 off-year elections (for Governor in Virginia and New Jersey), limited-government, conservative Republicans swept the races.

Massachusetts is holding a special election tomorrow to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D), a seat that has been held by Democrats since 1953 in a state that doesn’t have a single Republic Congressman today. In any other time, this would be an easy Democratic win. In these times, however—with palpable voter anger—anything can happen. Scott Brown (R), according to many recent polls, is leading Martha Coakley (D) for the seat.

Even if Brown loses tomorrow, the fact that the so-called ‘Kennedy seat’ is competitive should be a huge wakeup call for the Democratic Party. They can delude themselves—as they did last year when Bob McDonnell (R) trounced Creigh Deeds (D) to become Governor of Virginia—into believing their woes are because their candidate ran a poor campaign, but the reality is much more fundamental.

Voters put Democrats in office in 2008 for ‘change’ because they were mad about bailouts, deficits, waste, and government intrusion in our lives under the previous administration. The Democrats simply accelerated the very things the voters abhorred, and the voters, unsurprisingly, feel terribly betrayed.

How can the Democrats save themselves from a bloodbath in the 2010 midterm elections? First and foremost, re-think this whole health care thing. The American people really don’t want the so-called ‘public option’ or abortions paid for with our tax dollars (even many pro-choice Americans don’t think abortions should be government funded). How about we start developing a bipartisan health care plan that does the following:

  • Prohibits insurance companies dropping coverage when people get sick.
  • Prohibits holding preexisting conditions against people after they have paid into a health plan for 1 year.
  • Permits the unfettered sale of health insurance across state lines.
  • Limits frivolous malpractice lawsuits (thus reducing insurance costs).

This health plan would fly through Congress with broad support from both parties, and would be widely supported by the American people. A massive new government entitlement, however, won’t. The Democrats should also refrain from any more big-government programs, immediately stop the bailouts and ‘stimulus’, and stop treating terrorists captured overseas as normal run-of-the-mill criminals. These things all really, really piss off the moderates and centrists that you need on your side if you intend to win elections.

The Republican Party has already begun to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s terrible misinterpretation of 2008, and will likely continue to do so. If the Republicans put forth good, limited-government candidates in the 2010 Congressional midterms, they stand a good chance of re-taking a majority in the House and making significant gains in the Senate. The Massachusetts race tomorrow—whichever way it goes—should be a wakeup call for the Democrats. Take heed.

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.