Senator Brown and the Reagan Democrats

Senator Scott Brown has been spending a good deal of time in South Boston, arguably the epicenter in Massachusetts of the so-called Reagan Democrats- working men and women who have been drawn away from their traditional Democratic Party roots because they no longer feel comforable in the party of their father or grandfather.

Brown, who ran a brilliant campaign three years ago against a candidate who didn’t seem to understand that you have to ask people for their vote, has been very effective in presenting himself again this year as a moderate kind of guy, an independent on the issues and a soulmate of the Reagan Democrats.

Brown’s opponent, Elizabeth Warren, suffers from the dreaded Cambridge/Harvard connection, meaning that she is an easy target for the claim that there is little similarity between her and the working stiffs of South Boston. Warren hasn’t helped herself by too often taking on the persona of a law professor as she lectures endlessly to her audiences and doesn’t seem to be able to shed the image of a Cambridge/Harvard elitist.

The only problem with Brown’s courting of the Reagan Democrats is that there are too many votes taken in Congress that show the junior senator from Massachusetts as a member of the Reepublican establishment. Whether it’s supporting oil company subsidies, lower taxes for millionaires and a firm commitment to do away with Obamacare, Brown is hardly a man of the people, working class people.

But give Brown and his handlers credit, they know how to spin a tale of political allegience to the Reagan Democrats. Brown and his people know that image is just about everything in politics, so a guy who drives a truck, openly talks about his abuse as a child, and comes from the street of hard knocks has a leg up against a Cambridge resident and Harvard professor.  It doesn’t matter that the Cambridge resident and Harvard professor has a working class story of her own and also comes from the street of hard knocks. All that matters to the Reagan Democrats of South Boston is that she’s not one of them.

It may be tough for Elizabeth Warren to break through the Brown image, even if the Republican senator is no champion of the working class. What the Reagan Democrats see is the central  problem of the Democratic Party here in Massachusetts – political leaders who can’t seem to connect to the people and a Republican Party that is more adept at convincing voters that they have the answers to our economic challenges.



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