How Scott Brown Has Already Changed Washington

We're not just talking about health care

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Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown was only sworn in yesterday, but some commentators think the rising Republican star may already have changed the political landscape. They aren't talking about his game-changing impact on health care reform, his thwarting of a union lawyer's confirmation, or even how his success reshapes Republican and Democratic midterm strategies. They're focused instead on how Congress--and Brown himself--will have to compromise and adapt.

  • Forces a Spirit of Compromise, declares The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein. In recent years, "it has reached the point where people don't know how to hammer out a compromise even when they might be so inclined." He also thinks it's time for Joe Biden to"step up to his constitutional duty as presiding officer of the Senate and begin overturning those age-old parliamentary precedents that now allow partisan obstructionists to eviscerate all semblance of majority rule." Both parties need to be reminded of their majority/minority roles.
  • Gives Dim Hope to Greens, writes Ben Smith at Politico. Green advocates hope to sway Brown to vote for climate change legislation. They have some reason for hoping to succeed, Smith says, because "Brown needs to find a way to make his legislative record match his independent persona and not to drift too far right for his liberal state." But a Brown aide quashes these hopes in an email to Smith, saying the Senator was "very vocal in his opposition to cap and trade during."
  • Ends 'Gentry Liberalism'  Even before Brown was sworn in, Joel Kotkin at New Geography thought that his election had political implications beyond a populist resurgence. Brown's election, he writes, "can be explained best by class." (Here he agrees with Bill Pascoe.) "Brown's election was a rejection of a very specific strain of left-wing ideology: gentry liberalism." What Kotkin means:
Gentry liberalism combines four basic elements: faith in postindustrial "creative" financial capitalism, cultural liberalism, Gore-ite environmentalism and the backing of the nation's arguably best-organized political force, public employee unions. Obama rose to power on the back of all these forces and, until now, has governed as their tribune.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.