Stop me when you see the parallels:
The time was November and December 2009, right about this time of year in the larger political calendar of things…. One party was completely locked out from influence in Washington DC, as the opposing party held the White House, and majorities in both houses of congress…
The 2009 political opposition groups didn’t like what was happening. There was very large and significant legislation being debated. Frustrated common sense citizens stopped looking to ineffective congressional representatives to stop the daily usurpation.
Loosely connected but engaged grassroots political types were looking for routes to stop the White House and congress.
There was also a Senate seat up for grabs, and a necessary special election. The former seat-holder was considered a stalwart by the party in power; and the seat was considered a “gimme” by the state party apparatus. No-one was contemplating the possibility of the majority party in power ever losing that seat….. EVER.
The candidate appointed to hold the seat for the party in power was arrogant, condescending, and generally didn’t feel they needed to work for the seat. After all, the seat was held by one party for decades and generally no-one could fathom losing it.
The election outcome was considered so much a forgone conclusion no-one was even polling the state throughout November or December 2009. It was also because of that herd mindset the next-in-line candidate just spent time on the cocktail circuit meeting with donors, taking their requests and then a few trips to DC for parties, drape-measuring, and generally snobbing around with the upper-minded ‘betters’.
About a month prior to the actual voting the election outcome was so widely anticipated to be a lopsided victory for the party in power the candidate actually took three weeks off, and jetted away to the caribbean for a Christmas/New Year holiday vacation.
However, under the radar, and entirely missed by everyone -including media- small bands of grassroots political peeps discovered the other parties strength was also their weakness. There was an invisible path to victory, and, more importantly, a hard working candidate who had quietly put in a stunning amount of groundwork.
Around the same time the overly confident political types were obliviously comparing Christmas decor…. tens, then dozens, then hundreds, eventually thousands of very focused volunteers began to assemble when everyone else was busy with the holiday and not paying attention.
Many, including many I got to know personally, gave up their 2009 holidays to drive half-way across the country and help the quiet assembly. [“Meet at the Old Mill, we ride at midnight”…]
By the time the party in power woke up from their New Years celebrations and looked to the formality of the upcoming election/coronation, well, it was too late.
The rebel alliance had positioned in every town, village, street corner, venue and simultaneously began overwhelming a completely unprepared political apparatus by drawing attention to their goal: Take the seat from the hands of power, and give it back to the people….
Our strategic advantage was their collective arrogance.
Because they fully expected to win the election, they didn’t even have signs, bumper stickers, advertising contracts, or operational infrastructure or volunteers planned for a campaign. They were completely caught off-guard.
We had thousands of people with home-made signs in the streets daily. The momentum was on our side and the candidate messaging so focused that by the time the DC apparatus woke up mid-January it was far too late. The election day was January 19th 2010.
Yes, in Dec. 2009/Jan 2010 the grassroots movement in Massachusetts to elect Scott Brown caught the Democrats completely off-guard. Martha Coakley lost, Scott Brown won, the political world was stunned; and yes, Democrats lost the Kennedy seat.
Why does this matter now?
Alabama Republicans, and the group planning to help Roy Moore win the Alabama primary, would be wise to pay attention to that historic reminder because republican candidate Roy Moore is acting just like democrat candidate Martha Coakley in November and December 2009.
- One party in power.
- A special election in a deeply one-sided state everyone takes for granted.
- A seat formerly held by a stalwart of the party in power. (Kennedy / Sessions)
- A disgruntled opposition party whose grassroots strategy is under the radar.
- No-one in the media paying attention. (A strategy that benefits from stealth)
- A generally ‘unlikable candidate‘, who spent more time in DC than campaigning in the state where it mattered. (see below)
See the parallels?
2017: No Democrat can ever win a senate seat in Alabama they say….
2009: No Republican can ever win a senate seat in Massachusetts they said…