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Sunday, August 06, 2006

What the Connecticut Primary is Really About

Technorati tags: , , , the is what the primary in is about

John Nichols writes in The Nation:

Never mind the internecine Democratic politics of Connecticut and the role that ethnic, labor and local sentiments will play in deciding the primary contest between centrist Senator Joe Lieberman and liberal challenger Ned Lamont. Never mind that the contest has made Connecticut the front line in an increasingly bitter brawl involving and the liberal blogosphere on one side and the Democratic Leadership Council and a substantial contingent of the party's Washington elite on the other. Never mind that both sides spend inordinate amounts of time debating whether George W. Bush thanked Lieberman for the senator's unwavering support of the Iraq War with a slobbering kiss or merely a peck on the cheek when the two embraced at a State of the Union address.

When the votes are counted on August 8, the whole of the Connecticut primary, and much of the national debate over the direction of the Democratic Party, will be boiled down to a one-line pronouncement. It will either be "Antiwar challenger trounces Lieberman" or "Lieberman prevails over war foes." The reduction of this complex contest to a headline may not be entirely fair, or entirely accurate. Yet it will be understandable, because to the surprise of just about everyone, the man Democrats nominated for Vice President in 2000 is in a fight for his political life with a previously unknown candidate who decided a few months ago to surf the wave of anger stirred by Lieberman's emergence as the loudest Democratic defender of the occupation of Iraq.

The Democratic Leadership Council or DLC has been a thorn in the side of more progressive lefties for years. 'New Democrats', as they call themselves, argue that only by adopting centrist positions can the democratic party elect candidates. Progressives point out that if merely being elected were the be all and end all of democratic politics, purpose would be lost.

Joe Lieberman is more than a new democrat. As the former chairman of the DLC, he's the new democrat. Driven by pro-corporate, free market ideology, the DLC wants to drag the democratic party kicking and screaming from the 20th century ideals of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society into the 21st century.

The problem is, they see a 21st century of the GOP's making. In trying to drag their party to the center, they drag it to the right - as the GOP moves farther right, so does the DLC. A party that exists only as a reaction to another is more than a little pointless. Which is why Lieberman's having so much trouble with anti-war democrats. The DLC is so bent on winning GOP voters that it's willing to screw over democrats.

That's what the Lieberman/Lamont contest is about.



Globetrotter said...

Unless the Democratic Party can begin to win back support (and more importantly votes) from moderate America, the Democratic party will just continue to wither on the vine. Supporting issues that are consistently left of the mainstream has certainly not brought the Democratic Party many victories over the years. In order to beat the Republicans at their own game, Dems need to move more into center, where mainstream America is comfortable, and that can easily include winning votes from Republicans who are disgusted by how far to the right the current cabal has swung.

NewsBlog 5000 said...

Voters have shown that right or wrong, they appreciate a candidate with convictions to a limp willed panderer. Besides, according to the polls, being anti-war is a moderate view.

Wisco said...


Obviously, I disagree. The dems haven't been successful lately because they've been hamstrung by the DLC, which - like the GOP - opposes many things polls show americans want in favor of free market moonyism.

According to a CBS/NYT poll, the top concerns among voters are Iraq, the economy, and gas prices. On which of those issues is the GOP more 'centrist' than dems?

Besides, I'm having a hard time thinking of a 'far left' position anyone in the democratic party has taken.