Issues Don’t Matter, Apparently

Flickr/rachelpasch (Creative Commons).Flickr/rachelpasch (Creative Commons).It never ceases to amaze me how little elections have to do with actual issues. It’s widely acknowleged that the Democrat, Martha Coakley, is in big trouble in the Massachusetts special election race to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. But her troubles seem to have very little to do with her actual positions on the issues.

Even if Scott Brown, the conservative Republican candidate, wins on Tuesday, Massachusetts will still be a very liberal state. Coakley’s issue positions will be far closer than Brown’s to the state’s median voter. And yet he would be the senator—not because more Bay Staters agree with him, but simply because he proved to be much, much better at politics than she is. Politics isn’t about being right, or even about having people think you’re right. It’s more about making people like you. And as Christina Bellantoni reports here, people—even partisan Dems—don’t seem to like Coakley very much. (And it certainly doesn’t hurt Brown that he’s tall and good-looking.)

If Brown wins, a lot of normally left-leaning folks will probably have voted for him. That’s their right. But voting for members of Congress based on likability doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Now more than ever, you’re really voting for a party, not an individual. If you prefer the Republicans’ approach to the issues, you should vote for the Republican. If you prefer the Democrats’ approach, you should vote for the Democrat. No one should be under any illusions that Brown is likely to be anything more than a partisan Republican—or that Coakley will be anything more than a partisan Democrat. That’s the real choice on Tuesday.

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.