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Seeking meaning in Massachusetts

In a special election this week Massachusetts chose a Republican, Scott Brown, as U.S. Senator to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. It was the first time in 57 years that the senate seat went to a Republican.

Congratulations are in order to Senator Brown and to the Republican Party.

Republican pundits and politicians could hardly wait to find a podium to claim that this one election signified the reversal of all things Obama. Democrats, stunned into babble, could only argue that their candidate ran a poor campaign.

But the election is not a ratification of Republicanism. One can hardly define Republicanism today; much less credit it for attracting the large numbers of Independent voters that elected Brown.

No, the election was not about Republicans at all, it was about voters who are mad as hell and just can’t take it anymore.

Democrats in Congress managed to make health care change a process that was simply too ugly to bear, trading incredible bribes to reluctant senators and selling a good deal of the merit of reform to special interests. By the time the bills were finally completed they held little Americans wanted. And along the way the incompetent Democrats lost the support of their own voters.

But it was more than health care that has caused voters to resent any and all things political. Last year, Congress passed new banking regulations to end some very egregious abuses by the banking industry.

But by giving the banks 18 months before implementing the new regulations they allowed the banks to further abuse the American public with higher interests rates, lower credit, and fewer mortgage loans.

It was not a good experience given taxpayers had just bailed out the banks that promptly abused them.

And Americans lost a lot of their financial security in the past few years. Our houses, the main investment for many Americans, have turned out not to hold any residual value; our pensions have been eliminated by profitable businesses due to competition; one in five Americans is either out of work, under employed, or fallen off the jobs list altogether.

Our incomes, those of us not in the economic top 5 percent, have stagnated at best since the 1970s and what was the American Dream is now more distant than ever in the last 50 years.

One in eight of us receives food stamps or has our homes near foreclosure.

Our trade policies have taken many good jobs and replaced them with many less rewarding jobs. Our employers have made employees see themselves as temporary, lacking any career security at all.

Given all of this Americans are looking for politicians who help them and stop helping special interests while claiming to support voters. But there are none to be found in terms of politicians helping the people.

Republicans were booted for their sell-outs to business and industry. Democrats have done little better helping people navigate the increasing insecurity of American life.

Barack Obama was elected to change all of this. No man could do so in the short time he has been in office. He is not our problem.

But the other hand, he is our problem in at least one way …we need to be reminded of the goals and reasons why things are as they are, and how they will get better.

We need inspiration and motivation from our president and Obama has not done this well at all.

The Obama presidency is hardly over, and certainly not without potential. But the President must move us forward. That is not happening.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.