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Thursday, August 10, 2006


Say Hello to the Neo-McGovernites

By Nathan Tabor

I almost ignored anti-war Ned Lamont’s win over pro-war Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary last night until I got a load of two of Lamont’s cadre of celebrants. Directly behind a smiling Lamont were Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton – two of the most divisive, opportunistic, and race-baiting individuals that contemporary politics has spawned. Somewhere in the distance, I could almost hear the faint whisper of Jackson’s “Hymietown” or Sharpton’s fixation on New York “diamond merchants.”

Welcome to the “new” 21st century Democratic Party, the political party that is starting to smell quite similar to the long-buried cadaver of the Democratic Party of the early 1970s – taken over at the time by the anti-Vietnam War McGovern Democrats. Last night has given us the neo-McGovernites.

Lamont’s primary victory puts the old guard of Democrats on a very slippery slope. While Bill Clinton came out in the final days of the campaign to support Joe Lieberman, Chris Dodd has already come out and endorsed Lamont. Maxine Waters
has backed Lamont from the beginning. Evan Bayh just signed on.

Who will follow? Kerry? Kennedy? Edwards? Feingold? Pelosi? Reid? Schumer? Rahm Emanuel? No doubt, all of them, and each time another prominent Democrat steps forward – under the banner of party unity – the Democratic Party will take one step further to the left. In an endorsement that might portend of things to come, Hillary has even thrown her (political) weight, plus $5,000, behind Lamont. With the neo-McGovernites already rallying against her and her (so far) pro-war stance, she’s in a political pickle.

“Look at me. I’m for the war but I’ve endorsed an anti-war senatorial candidate!” This from a potential presidential candidate who has been trying so hard to move to the center, using the political playbook of her husband. And with each step to the left, the Democratic Party will clarify itself as the “cut-and-run” party.

Somewhere in D.C., Karl Rove must be drooling.
Ever since 1972 the Democratic party has argued that the way to win elections is to be more ..... Republican. But the real reason Democrats lose is not because they are not Repbublican. It is because they are defining themselves by issues Republicans choose rather than by issues of their own choosing. It is a failure of to define a distinctive set of values, preach them, and cling to them, not a failure to be enough like the other party that has failed Democrats.

If one is determined to buy a car with good reliability does one only go to the Ford Dealer? No. Make the issue in choosing a car reliability and can you ignore visiting the Toyota dealership? No. One goes to the Toyota dealer. That company started small, and preached a message of value. And people bought it. The reason people vote Republican is that they have a consistent message. Sadly, Republicans have been running on fear and greed for forty years and winning.

I have a dream that some day Democrats will wake up. Some day Democrats will engage American voters all through the election cycle, and Americans will have to choose between the set of good policies Republicans are selling and the set of better policies Democrats are selling. Right now offerings on one side are terrible and destructive and on the other side nil.

I have not followed this race closely enough to know if Lamont is good at articulating this sort of vision. But Democrats have lost an awful lot of elections looking like shadow Republicans. And if you are going to lose anyway,,, go down swinging. Stand for something. The goal of politics is to implement good policy, good government. And to do that you have to take a stand.

Joe Lieberman may still win the Senate. Or the Republican candidate might. But progressives see this as an opportunity to talk about issues rather than process. I hope you will join in.

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