Our political system is seemingly more paralyzed by ideology than at any point in recent memory, and the campaign for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts is a prime example of this reality.
From the get-go, media coverage on the race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown was intensified by presuppositions and overblown language. Coakley apparently should have won because it was a "Democratic seat." Unfortunately for news reporters, no such seats exist in the Senate.
This language reflects the domination that parties have in political discourse today. It was not an empty seat to be filled by an individual, but a branded seat that was waiting for some party member or another to either reaffirm or change its brand, regardless of who that party member was.
This idea was further entrenched by those who claimed Brown's victory as a national referendum against the Obama administration, as if the reason that Brown was elected was because he has an "R" next to his name, and the people of Massachusetts were unhappy with a president with a "D" next to his.
People vote on party lines; we know that. But what is particularly disturbing to us about Brown's election is the discussion concerning the elimination of the Democrats' "supermajority" in the Senate.
In 2008, the Democrats reached the magic number 60. This meant that they could - should they all vote the same - bypass a filibuster by the Republicans in order to more quickly pass legislation. They could bypass an integral, though admittedly painful, part of the democratic process, and still they could not get things like health care reform done right.
There is something to be said about feeling a need to bypass democracy in order to legislate. It is absurd that politics has become so partisan that a party losing a supermajority, but retaining 58 seats, is said to sustain a devastating loss. Yet, we can expect continued inertness on the part of our senators so long as the little letters next to their names take priority over doing the right thing for the country.