After Obama’s remarkable victory in the Presidential elections last year, it was something of a surprise to see the Republican Scott Brown win in Massachusetts - thereby removing Obama’s so-called super-majority of 60 seats that makes filibustering by the Republicans impossible.
As the Independent reports: “Tuesday's stunning loss of a seemingly rock-solid Senate seat in Massachusetts suggests voters' anger is now directed with equal ferocity against Mr Obama and the Democrats. In fact, one crucial element has not changed: Americans' disillusion and exasperation with the way their government works.
Many factors contributed to the came-from-nowhere victory of Scott Brown. He was an excellent candidate; a relative outsider, a natural communicator and infectiously energetic. Maybe too the electorate felt that however hallowed the memory of Ted Kennedy, after almost half a century it was time for real change. "This is the people's seat," Mr Brown declared in his victory speech, not a sinecure to be handed down from one generation of Democrats to another.
The faltering economy, stagnant earnings and a jobless rate of 10 per cent added to the rebellious mood. Another element, unquestionably, was the increasingly unpopular health care measure pushed by Mr Obama and the Democratic majority on Congress, now opposed by a majority of Americans.”
Last night on Newsnight, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democrats, who created the ‘50 State Strategy’ that Obama employed in his successful campaign, made it clear that the US voters do not now fall into a two party mould, which the US Constitution was designed for - half the voters are now independents and independents who are enraged at the institutional rooted government which the nation must endure. Hence any candidate which can appeal to this group has a very good chance of victory. Scott Brown barely mentioned ‘Republican’.
Dean said the electorate in the UK were similarly independently minded with the same anger at institutional bias by government. This seems a fair comment since the turnout at the last two General Election has fallen to around 60% compared to an average post war average of 75% prior to Labour coming to office, demonstrating that many ‘would be voters’ don’t bother because the do not believe a change in the administration will make any difference.
In the US there are various groups trying to work out how to channel this desire of the people to throw off their corrupt politicians and to get real change within their two party system. Here, where we do not have the same constraints, the way is open for a politician who can respond to the mood of the voters and who could make great strides at the next General Election towards overturning this institutional bias. This could be achieved through matters such as our EU membership and unwanted immigration where the mainstream parties are not offering the voters what they want.
Where is our Obama equivalent?