O.k., so it’s happened. Scott Brown handily defeated Martha Coakley and will soon be sworn in as the next Senator from Massachusetts. Let the pundit games begin (and they have).
But let us also remain a bit sober about this; I’m reminded of an episode in the 2nd season of The West Wing (those who know me well know that my affection for The West Wing, seasons 1-4, knows no bounds) – “The War at Home”. In it, two of my favorite characters – pollster Joey Lucas (played by Marlee Matlin) and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford) have a little exchange about poll numbers; see, Josh is trying to measure response to President Bartlett’s 3rd State of the Union speech in which he laid out a gun control strategy that included a five-day waiting period. Josh wants the numbers from five key districts because he sees the gun issue as a measure of how those states will vote in the upcoming presidential election — in other words, it’s a litmus test (much like the Coakley defeat is already being used to write obits for the Obama Presidency).
Josh insists that the high numbers against mean that he needs to advise the President to dial down the rhetoric on gun control if he wants to win re-election. Joey insists the opposite is true; he says “Numbers don’t lie.”, to which she replies “Numbers lie all the time… You say that these numbers mean dial it down; I say they mean dial it up. You haven’t gotten through. There are people you haven’t persuaded yet.”
Dial it up, people. The work is hard, but the prize – social justice, fairer government, and a better healthcare system – is too important to let it slip by. There are people we haven’t reached yet. Dial it up.