Pundits are falling over themselves trying to explain yesterday’s special election upset in Massachusetts. Depending on who you listen to, the outcome is the fault of the national Democratic Party, the candidate herself, the tea partiers, the health care debate, or any one of a number of other reasons (I’m still waiting for someone to blame it on global warming and former President Bush, but it’s really just a matter of time I suppose.)
Lest we accept the results at face value and move on, however, let’s not forget that most notorious of -isms: sexism.
Today’s Politico blames the glass ceiling, wondering “If a male attorney general and former prosecutor had been running against a woman who’d posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine and whose law practice consisted mainly of real estate closings, would he have been the one reduced to praying for a squeaker victory? Would she have even gotten elected to the state Senate?”
To borrow Democratic strategist James Carville’s phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid.” The two candidates’ platforms were wildly different on issues ranging from health care to energy to education, and voters chose accordingly. In fact, the few exit polls that exist indicate that health care was the top issue that voters considered.
Accusing voters of supporting Brown based solely on his sex not only oversimplifies the race, but insults the people of Massachusetts. Should political operatives believe that narrative, they do so at their own peril – because there are far more important lessons to be learned before the midterm elections.