Monday, July 03, 2006

Real Democrats, Please Stand Up

Lieberman Will Petition
1:45 PM EDT, July 3, 2006
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, The Hartford Courant

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman announced today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an "independent Democrat," giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.
I hope that the Democrats of Connecticut will have enough self respect to decline to vote for someone who cares more about holding office than belonging to the party.

Let me be clear. I do not expect any candidate not to try anything within legal bounds to get elected. I'm not surprised at this move by Lieberman. On a formal level, I can't even be critical of him as a self-interested candidate. He is acting within the laws of the state.

In fact, I'm not particularly emotionally engaged at this point. Joe Liberman has made clear that he is going to use the Democratic Party to further his own ends, and will turn away as soon as it is no longer in his interest to do so. Given that, the party should not extend him any time, energy or other resources, as he is not willing to be a party loyalist.

This is a different matter than voting a party line on legislation. In those cases, the office holder may think that the party has chosen a wrong-headed position or that the overall case is good, but would be bad for her constituents, particularly as an official must decide on behalf of people who may not have voted for her.

In an election, however, it is an exchange between an organization and a candidate. The organization is formally bound to select the candidate who will best represent the interests of the constituent members. It would be a different matter if a party asks someone already running for a seat if she would also represent their party, but that is clearly not the case here.

Joe Lieberman has, for all practical purposes, bolted the Democratic Party. He does not deserve the support of the party because he will not offer support in return. Given that he is still polling 15 point ahead of Lamont in a poll cited in the above article, there is still a strong chance he will take the primary. I'm watching for the new Quinnipaic tracking poll for a more accurate measure.

The article goes on to say:
"I've been a proud, loyal and progressive Democrat since John F. Kennedy inspired my generation of Americans into public service and I will stay a Democrat, whether I am the Democraitic party's nominee or a petitioning Democratic candidate on the November ballot," Lieberman said. He added that he would, even if re-elected as a petitioning candidate, remain a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus...

Lieberman began making courtesy calls to leading Democrats late this morning. Among them were Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Connecticut's Democratic state chairwoman, Nancy DiNardo.

Most other Democratic candidates already have said they would support the winner of the Aug. 8 primary.
This is where it gets politically interesting. The Democrats as a party had better stand squarely behind whomever wins the party nomination in August. To fail to do so would mean something far, far worse than returning Lieberman to the Senate. It would mean the end of the party as even pretending to represent the will of its members. I'm not talking about an individual politician saying "Joe's my friend and I support him." That's failing to be political. I'm talking about the Senate leadership, the DNC, the DLC, the DSCC and other party-identified organs, and their managing officers speaking in an official capacity.

That means you, Harry Reid. And you, Howard Dean. The entire DLC leadership. And most especially you, Chuck Shumer, since you've hinted at being a Lieberman-before-party supporter before.

Unlike a lot of blogospheric bloviators, I'm not saying this out of any deep, passionate dislike for Sen. Lieberman. My opinion of him is more negative than positive, but I figure he's not my senator and CT can send whatever idiot they feel best represents them. I am saying this out a keen regard for the way power works in the Congress and knowing we need party discipline to take back the government from the Rethuglican kleptocracy. I offer a sound, formal rule - support the local candidate for your party. Reward loyalty and punish defection in clear and consistent ways.

A party of rules and law, not of men and money.


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