When voters go to the polls on November 6 to choose between incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, they will be doing more than casting a ballot for one of Massachusetts's two US senators.
Given the nation's deep political divide and the razor-thin margin that separates President Obama from Mitt Romney in voter polls, Bay State voters have a supersized chance to shape the national political environment for the next two years — and perhaps well beyond.
As it is, Democratic control of the Senate is fragile. If Romney were to win the White House, it's no exaggeration to say that Senate Democrats could be the only line standing between the radical, right-wing political agenda of the Republicans and the modest but welcome gains achieved since George W. Bush left office.
This election is about more than consolidating four years of hard-fought progress. It is about capturing the future, ensuring that the poor, the working class, and middle-income families have Washington allies, helpmates, and friends.
That is just one of the many reasons that the Phoenix supports Elizabeth Warren and urges her election.
Warren knows what it is to struggle. The daughter of a hard-working Oklahoma family, Warren married, raised a family, and put herself through a commuter college before setting off on a career in the law. At every step of the way, Warren punched her own ticket, advanced because of her own industry, and after years of toil became a tenured professor at Harvard Law School.
Warren's opponents try to turn her success against her, suggesting that she is mysteriously less than admirable because she has fought her way to the top of her profession. The last time we checked, the essence of the American Dream was the chance to maximize your own potential in a free and open society.
Thanks to Republican ideology, the sort of thinking Scott Brown subscribes to and represents, the rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and working people have gotten screwed.
Brown's attempt to portray himself as a middle-of-the-road champion of the middle class, as a bipartisan hero is — to paraphrase Joe Biden — malarkey.
When you strip away routine Senate votes that had little or no impact on national policy, Brown voted with his Republican masters 76 percent of the time.
Brown's vote to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military was certainly welcome. But would he have swung that way if he had not faced a tough re-election campaign? Can Massachusetts afford a senator who votes against his constituents' interests three-quarters of the time?
It is almost certain that the next president will appoint, and the Senate must approve, two or more Supreme Court justices. Given that probability, can the nation afford a sitting senator from Massachusetts whose self-described high-court hero is Justice Antonin Scalia? Scalia is blatantly bigoted, unrepentantly right-wing, a supporter of pro-business decisions that helped crush middle America, and a zealot committed to overturning Roe vs. Wade and denying women's rights to abortion.
There is no doubt that Warren will champion choice if she is sent to Washington, or that she will champion issues of vital concern to women — such as equal pay for equal work, which Brown recently voted against.