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Are Democrats Opposed to Democracy?

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On Tuesday the Washington Post reported that "Critics of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's independent run to keep his job attacked on two fronts Monday, with one group asking an elections official to throw him out of the Democratic Party and a former rival calling on state officials to keep his name off the November ballot." Lieberman staffers have of course identified these moves as dirty politics.

But is it unreasonable to ask election officials to throw Senator Lieberman out of the Democratic Party, or is this merely a dangerous request? Henry Lowendorf, of The New Haven Peace Council, underscored the fact that "[t]here was an open vote, and he was voted out. He joined a different party."

True enough. Though there are several Democrats in Washington who have openly declared their support for Senator Lieberman, he did lose in his party's state primary race and could technically be thrown out of the party if he chooses to run against the official Democratic candidate. But what if Senator Lieberman is expelled from his party and goes on to win in November as currently expected? Having been summarily rejected by his party, would he be as inclined to caucus with them in the future?

Which is likely why John Orman, a Fairfield University poli-sci professor who gave up on his challenge to Lieberman last year, filed a complaint on Monday asking that Lieberman's name not be included on the state ballot. The Post notes that Orman has accused Senator Lieberman of creating "a fake political party." "He's doing anything he can to get his name on the ballot."

Certainly he is. And as long as it is legal, why should anyone have a problem with this? It seems to me that Mr. Orman himself was doing anything he could to get his name on the ballot not that long ago. Unfortunately, he raised about $1000 to Lieberman's $3.8 million in the same period of time.

Which underscores the fact that Lamont's ability to launch his campaign was due in major part to his ability to utilize his personal fortune to fund his campaign. For all the fervor anti-war activists bring to the table, rarely are there funds attached.

As I noted in a recent post, Lieberman will, at the very least be able to match Lamont in dollar-for-dollar campaign spending. But with Lieberman still in the race, Lamont must now run to the center and shed the one-dimensional stigma he gained as the "anti-war" candidate. Lamont won the Democratic primary with only 15% of the voting population in Connecticut, but did so narrowly, and recent polls show Lieberman with a 12-point lead among likely voters.

At this point, Connecticut voters know Lamont as well as they do Lieberman, so a 12-point spread will not be easy to erase. And the senator is almost certain to receive a significant level of support from Connecticut Republicans who are well aware of the fact that their candidate has no chance of winning in the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, CBS News notes that Senator Lieberman has been retooling his campaign for the upcoming election. A recent statement from the senator notes that his new hires are "not just among the best in their respective businesses, but they bring a deep knowledge of Connecticut from across the political spectrum, which will be essential to our effort to build a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents."

CBS News outlines the Senator's recent campaign changes and quotes Lamont's campaign spokeswoman, Liz Dupont-Diehl who asks "[t]hese new appointments beg the question: Who is the real Joe Lieberman?" But such comments serve only to underscore the political naivete of Lamont and company.

Politicians often make such staff changes, or shuffle staff around to bring in new players with critical areas of expertise. Senator Kerry and Howard Dean did much the same during their primary and general election campaigns in 2003 and 2004.

In light of recent poll results — and naive comments from a certain campaign spokeswoman — Lamont would be well advised to consider some of his own staff changes. And Speaking of Lamont, some recent changes in his rhetoric beg the question: Who is the real Ned Lamont?

As James Taranto of OpinionJournal noted last week, Lamont has done an abrupt about-face on some of the issues, most notably in the area of universal health care, first criticizing and then echoing Lieberman's own stand on the issue within a span of three months.

Unfortunately, rhetoric changes will likely not fool voters. Extensive press coverage of Mr. Lamont's during the primary made him a national figure and left little doubt that his is the anti-war candidacy. Despite what Democrats continue to believe, an anti-war message is not the silver bullet election issue they've been seeking.

Which is why anti-war activists are now seeking to expel Lieberman from the Democratic Party and, if possible, to keep him off of the ballots in November.  Such tactics will likely backfire, further alienating the swing voters whom Lamont so desperately needs if he is to overcome a 12-point deficit by November.

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About David

  • Dean

    “Unfortunately, [Orman] raised about $1000 to Lieberman’s $3.8 million in the same period of time.

    Interesting.

    That must mean Orman is still for sale.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “recent polls show Lieberman with a 12-point lead among likely voters.”

    Well…two more recent polls show Lamont a lot closer than that:

    Rasmussen has Lieberman over Lamont just 45 to 43…

    and

    American Research Group has Lieberman over Lamont just 44 to 42…

    So, unfortunately, it looks like Joe could lose, despite my earlier prediction

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    The more they attack Lieberman and the dirtier the tricks get, the more they legitimize his candidacy. Adversity makes him appear to be an appealing outsider rather than the spineless insider he’s always been.

    Dave

  • http://catherinejames.blogspot.com/ cat

    You’re assuming our current operational government is a democracy, which clearly has not been the case for quite some time.

  • http://viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    In regards to the polls, I realize that at least one recent poll showed a 44-42 lead for Lieberman, however, I’m going to lean more towards the Quinnipiac University poll which I quote in my post above. Not because it gives Lieberman the largest spread to date but because it is such an accurate poll when it comes to Connecticut politics.

    Now, having said that, a new Quinnipiac University poll might say tomorrow that the lead has narrowed considerably. If that is the case, then so be it. I do think Liebeman will win.

    As for the comment from “cat,” my response is merely, of course our operational government is a democracy. I would love to hear from you whatever evidence you have that we are no longer a democracry.

    Oh, and please tell us when our democracy ended and what we are currently. I’m not asking for a book report, but some facts would be nice.

    Thanks.

  • Liberal

    “At this point, Connecticut voters know Lamont as well as they do Lieberman”

    Really? Did we suddenly become politically engaged while I wasn’t looking?

    “But such comments serve only to underscore the political naivete of Lamont and company.”

    They defeated a three term Senator in a primary. I’ll take that kind of naivete any day.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    That’s the kind of naivete which loses in the general election. Have fun with it.

    Dave

  • http://viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Liberal,

    For a campaign spokesperson to critisize another campaign for trying to reach out to the broadest possible audience, when they should be doing the exact same thing, is not exactly the smartest move.

    Thanks.

  • Liberal

    That make no sense, Dave. The Lamont campaign beat a sitting Senator in a primary. How does that translate into a loss in the general election?

    The question, “Who is the real Joe Lieberman?” is not naive at all. In fact, it’s a great theme for the general election.

    Nationally, the primary was portrayed as a referendum on the war. That’s not all it was about. The war was the perfect galvanizing issue for an insurgent candidate and the Lamont campaign was astute enough to use that issue to create a campaign out of nothing. Exit polls, however, show that 59% of voters said that Lieberman “was too close to the President.” THAT is the issue, not the war.

    There is effectively no Republican candidate. In order to win, Joe needs Republican votes. In order to do that, he needs to align himself more closely with them. The more he does that, the more he’ll be seen by the Democrats who didn’t vote in August as being “too close to the President.”

    Keep in mind that we’re two months from the election. An incumbent Senator, former VP and Pres candidate has only a 12 point lead in the polls over a challenger who is still relatively unknown.

    If I were Alan Schlesinger, I’d bet on Lamont.

  • Liberal

    RE: #8

    The strategy that won the primary was the portrayal of Joe as a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. Continuing that strategy IS a smart move.

    Joe Lieberman is a political whore whose only concern is keeping his seat. The Lamont campaign doesn’t need to do much more than sit back and let Joe prove that.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    Lieberman’s pretty much shot himself in the foot. He’ll lose in November

  • Nancy

    The issues in CT are more involved than just anti-war Lamont vs pro-Bush Lieberman. Lieberman had been setting himself up for a fall with the voters for a looooong time with his increasing ‘let them eat cake’, ivory-tower attitude & disconnect from the lives & realities of everyday citizens which is typical of multiterm pols. He is/was also very much identified with the current ‘do-nothing’ congress, and both sides of the rank & file are disgusted by that, not just Dems. That’s why he lost. The Kiss of Bush was just the frosting on the cake.

  • http://viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Actually, you cannot say, based on the primary vote in Connecticut that this was a mainstream election for Democrats. Only 15% of the voting population showed up to vote at all.

    What about the other 85% of the population that would normally vote? I do think that the anti-war left found a candidate who thinks as they do, but who could also fund his own campaign and then created a campaign that said, basically, “get rid of Lieberman and you hurt Bush.”

    That motivated the anti-war crowd to get out and vote. But even then, Lamont only won by 10,000 votes. Just before the election, many were predicting that Lieberman would lose so badly that he would be forced to simply bow out of the general election. That didn’t happen and now Lamont is in a pickle because he has to run to the right in hopes of winning moderates in the state.

    And just as I mentioned above, his campaign spokeswoman is out there critisizing Lieberman for courting moderates. How smart is that?

    As for calling Lieberman a “political whore,” what does that make John Kerry? He was the one who voted for the war, then voted against it, then for it, then against, then for it… Currently I think he is again anti-war, but that could change based on the barometric pressure.

    Lieberman is in trouble more because he’s a man of consistent principles, not because he’s out there trying to say and do whatever will get him elected.

    Thanks.

  • Baronius

    There have been some successful independents in New England in recent years. I’m not sure what Sanders considers himself. Jeffords was a Republican when elected, but is now an independent. Weicker won an election as an independent in Lieberman’s own state. I might be wrong, but I think there’s another major office holder, in Massachusetts, who ran as an independent.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    “Lamont only won by 10,000 votes”

    That’s a large margin for a primary election. Defeating an 18 year incumbent senator by a 52% to 48% margin is huge.

    And Lieberman isn’t courting “moderates” per se, he’s courting Republicans. It’s the only way he’ll be able to pull it out. It’s his new base. There’s the rub though: this is Connecticut and there are very few Republicans. Even worse, it’s not 2004. Republican turnout looks to be lower this year due to unmotivated voters. Two recent polls show a statistical dead heat and the trends are in Lamont’s favor. Lieberman’s independent run is nothing more than a selfish power grab by a guy who was defeated fair and square in a certified primary election.

  • http://viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Scott,

    Lieberman’s independent run is nothing more than a guy who wants to keep the job that he has and who wants to give ALL voters a chance to decide, not just the 15% who came out to the polls for the Primary. You can disagree with that, but that too is the democratic system in action.

    Thus, the title of my latest post.

    Think of it this way, if Lamont wins, it will be a HUGE plus both for Lamont and for the anti-war activists who have supported him from the beginning. As you know, my money is on Lieberman.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “And Lieberman isn’t courting “moderates” per se, he’s courting Republicans. It’s the only way he’ll be able to pull it out. It’s his new base. There’s the rub though: this is Connecticut and there are very few Republicans.”

    Interesting. So, he can only win with Republican support, but Republican support means almost nothing in Connecticut…do you realize you contradicted yourself in the same paragraph?

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    Look at it this way RJ, he’s not going to get a majority of Democrats voting for him and he may get half of non-affiliateds or “independent” voters. Maybe more, maybe less. His only hope is to turn out the Republicans, small though their numbers are, and convince them to vote for him in convincing numbers to have any shot at winning while also trying to grab a large enough chunk or indy’s and dems. No repub support, no more Joe.

    Clearer now for ya? Not really contradictory in the least, I would say.

    David,
    Should all incumbents defeated in primaries make run as independents in the general election? Murkowski, Schwarz, McKinney – should they be launching independent bids? The guy lost the Democratic primary for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat. And he’ll lose in November, pretty cut and dry. It seems you want to support a system where there’s no primaries, is that fair to say?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Some here are overstating the control Democrats have over the election in Connecticut. Like most New England states and like most states in the nation Connecticut has seen a heavy shift of voters from the Dems to thinking of themselves as Independents, while the GOP has had smaller losses. The breakdown in Connecticut is around 40% Democrat, 30% Republican and 30% Independent. So all Lieberman needs to do to win is get half of the Independents and a third of the Republicans and a third of the Democrats for a resounding victory. That’s giving Lamont more than the proportion of Democrats he won in the primary and underestimating Lieberman’s pull among Independents and Republicans. I’ll go out on a limb and predict 39% for Lieberman, 34% for Lamont and 27% for the Republican whose name escapes me at the moment. And that’s a VERY conservative prediction. I think the more the voters see of Lamont the more Republicans and Independents will flock to Lieberman.

    Dave

  • http://viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Scott,

    It is not what I do or do not support. This is they way politics works in this country.

    Cynthia Mckinney lost the primary and she is not launching an independent bid because she knows it’s a waste of time. But Lieberman has a good shot at winning in November.

    In 2000, Lieberman was critisized for serving as Al Gore’s VP candidate AND running again for his Senate office in parallel. That was legal, though much hay was made about it.

    You don’t have to like, it just is what it is.

    Thanks.

  • RedTard

    Scott’s just whining cause he’s scared. Like most people, he only fakes concern for democracy when it suits his favorite horse. If a left leaning independent threatens a republican seat he’d fight tooth and nail to show how that was democracy in action and how that person needed to be on the ballot, etc. It’s really lame but unfortunately, that’s the way the country goes these days. Everyone is ‘win at all costs’ and all ethics and morals are out the window.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    “The breakdown in Connecticut is around 40% Democrat, 30% Republican and 30% Independent. So all Lieberman needs to do to win is get half of the Independents and a third of the Republicans and a third of the Democrats for a resounding victory. That’s giving Lamont more than the proportion of Democrats he won”

    Actually, Independents make up Connecticut’s biggest voter bloc, followed by Dems and then GOP. Lieberman would need about 75% of the Repub vote, 50% of the Independent vote and a third of the Dem vote to win.

    “I’ll go out on a limb and predict 39% for Lieberman, 34% for Lamont and 27% for the Republican”

    Schlesinger is the Republican and he’s tainted by scandal. He’ll be lucky to get 10%.

    “It is not what I do or do not support. This is they way politics works in this country”

    Well, the usual way it works is by the member of a political party abiding by the results. The irony of it all is that Joe had ruled out an independent bid, he would have won the primary. Now he’ll lose both.

  • Clavos

    Independents make up Connecticut’s biggest voter bloc

    I’ve said this before in another thread, but it bears repeating here:

    Because they are independents, it is an oxymoron to characterize independent voters as a bloc, or to expect them to vote as a bloc.

  • Nancy

    Good point, Clavos.

  • http://viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Scott,

    Just because we have, for the most part, a two-party system in this country doesn’t mean there’s no other way. As others have pointed out, several politicians in Connecticut have in the past switched to an independent status and won their election.

    And I’m glad you mentioned the fact that Lieberman likely hurt his chances of winning by saying early on that, if he lost the primary, he would run as an independent. You see, a regular politician would NEVER have said such a thing. They would have kept their mouths shut and, upon losing the primary, moved to apply for independent status.

    Lieberman was honest about it. He spoke plainly on his desire to win back his seat and let people know that, yes, if he lost in the primary, he would run as an independent. Do you know how rare a quality that is in a politician? And his willingness to say that he thinks and believes is why he’s in trouble right now.

    Senator McCain is the same way. He does what he thinks is right, says what he thinks, and gives his party headaches at times. And he’s an honorable man who has served his country nearly his entire life. We need more McCains and Liebermans in Washington, not less, if you ask me.

    Finally, regarding the “independent block” of voters. No one is suggesting that independents will vote as a block, they are just being identified as the block of independent voters. Which way they’ll vote is uncertain, of course. But the same can be said for Democrats and Republicans as well, right?

    Thanks.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    “Independents make up Connecticut’s biggest voter bloc”

    I just meant that as a way to say there are more registered independents in CT than Repubs or Dems. Of course they don’t vote as one “bloc”

    “And I’m glad you mentioned the fact that Lieberman likely hurt his chances of winning by saying early on that, if he lost the primary, he would run as an independent….Lieberman was honest about it. He spoke plainly on his desire to win back his seat”

    Well, he didn’t speak too plainly about it. He waivered on the issue for a while, never giving a definitive answer before finally realizing that he was most likely going to lose the primary so he started collecting signatures for his independent run and was finally forced to admit that if he lost he would continue as an independent. Even if he had been more forthcoming about running as an Indy, he still may have won the primary.

    All of this boils down to this: yes, he can run as an independent if he wants, I’m not saying he has no right to do that. But just like you say about McKinney, I think it’s a waste of his time. I think Lieberman has crippled himself for the general election.

  • Nancy

    Lieberman just happened to be the first in line. I think as the season goes on and other primaries take place, it’s going to happen to others as well. It’s more a general mood among those that bother to vote, that they seem to want to Just Kick The Bastards Out.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    Murkowski went down on Tuesday.

    Chafee is pooping his pants right about now.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, Independents make up Connecticut’s biggest voter bloc,

    Then the breakdown has changed radically since 2004. Assuming the trend from prior years continued, most of the votes which became unaligned would have left the Democrats.

    followed by Dems and then GOP. Lieberman would need about 75% of the Repub vote, 50% of the Independent vote and a third of the Dem vote to win.

    If your switch in perentages is correct, then the 50% of the independent vote alone would put him close to victory, even if Schlesinger only got half the GOP vote.

    Schlesinger is the Republican and he’s tainted by scandal. He’ll be lucky to get 10%.

    I actually saw a poll where he had 9%, with almost all the GOP votes going to Lieberman, giving him a 20 point victory over Lamont.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Murkowski went down on Tuesday.

    No loss there. It was the only way for the GOP to hold onto the governor’s seat. And don’t forget the unlamented defeat of Cynthia McKinney.

    Chafee is pooping his pants right about now.

    Which is a whole different issue – and not a good thing – because Chafee is one of the good guys and his challenger is an unredeemable party weasel. Not like McKinney who is nuts or Murkowski who’s blatantly corrupt.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    I’ll just put this link on here. Connecticut voter registration stats as of October 2005.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “The breakdown in Connecticut is around 40% Democrat, 30% Republican and 30% Independent. So all Lieberman needs to do to win is get half of the Independents and a third of the Republicans and a third of the Democrats for a resounding victory. That’s giving Lamont more than the proportion of Democrats he won in the primary and underestimating Lieberman’s pull among Independents and Republicans. I’ll go out on a limb and predict 39% for Lieberman, 34% for Lamont and 27% for the Republican whose name escapes me at the moment. And that’s a VERY conservative prediction. I think the more the voters see of Lamont the more Republicans and Independents will flock to Lieberman.”

    Actually, there are more Independents than Democrats in CT…so it’s more like 45% Ind, 32% Dem, and 23% Rep…also, there is no way in hell the GOP candidate is going to get over 20%…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Lieberman just happened to be the first in line. I think as the season goes on and other primaries take place, it’s going to happen to others as well. It’s more a general mood among those that bother to vote, that they seem to want to Just Kick The Bastards Out.”

    Other than McKinney, Lieberman, and that clown in Alaska…can you name a single Senatorial, Gubernatorial, or House of Representatives race where this is likely to be the case?

    I’m not saying that there isn’t another example or two…but it ain’t exactly an anti-incumbent tidal wave yet…

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I’ll just put this link on here. Connecticut voter registration stats as of October 2005.

    Wow, those parties really pissed off some voters. This argues very strongly in favor of Lieberman come the general election.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    I’m sure that democrats are touched that so many good republicans are concerned democrat party internal affairs.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Bliff, I don’t think the Lieberman issue is restricted to one party in any sense. He’s been effectively booted out of his party and his candidacy has become an issue for the entire public.

    The GOP has the same problem and I don’t see any Democrats hesistating to get excited at the problems Chafee is having in Rhode Island, despite the fact that if they’re genuine progressives they ought to be supporting him wholeheartedly.

    Dave

  • Steve

    If Lieberman didn’t vote with the Dems. 90% of the time, I would have suggested he form a new third major party. You guys sure do need one down there. But given the above fact, I guess that would be redundant. It sure makes the Dems. foaming at the mouth that much more puzzling though. I can’t help feeling their hatred of Bush is overcoming rational thought. Sounds like a tempest in a teacup to me.

  • http://www.lp.org matt

    democrats, republicans, right, left, conservative, liberal….they’re are all the same. all the problems we had ten, twenty and fifty years ago are still around, and all these guys can do is point your finger.

    this country needs a BIG change. representatives who actually represent the people, not tell the people how to feel about what; candidates that aren’t going to be in government just because they’re rich, or because their family is rich. this country needs a party that doesn’t waste $150 million (republican) or $53 million (democratic) of tax payers’ money on a national convention.

    Hysteria surrounding drug use and the war on drugs has led to overfilled prisons which serve only as a breeding grounds for violence and sodomy to drug users that may have been recreational users, or may have been nonviolent addicts…not to mention the fact that we still have a serious drug problem and violence surrounding the illegal drug industry is still very much present – making it illegal makes drugs scarce, which drives up profit for dealers. also, we can’t tax it or regulate it, because the only places it exists were driven underground. aaand the fact that when addicts get out of prison, they’re not rehabilitated. because they need medical and psychological help, not punishment. drug addiction is a complex social problem that the drug war turns it’s back on. oh yeah, and the cost. as of right now, october 24, 2006, the government has spent $41 billion dollars in the war on drugs this year.

    a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. and in america, we don’t have to choose between two people. let’s get rid of these big suits with their massive funding and the theatrics. america needs a change. it’s obvious.

    this is all how I feel, not how “my party” feels. i’m not speaking for a party. but i have found a party that gives me hope for the future of this country. if you don’t even consider this party by looking at its official website (www.lp.org), then it’s very likely that you’re brainwashed. get some fresh air, take off your bumper stickers and the sign out of your yard for a minute, give yourself a rest from all the bickering, and consider what’s really important. first figure out what’s currently wrong with our government. something is definitely wrong, because the “majority” was only the “majority” by less than one percent in the last election. listen a lot – to every possible candidate, and think a lot, before you give your vote to some guy you think will be slightly better than the other one.

    hitler’s army generals and commanders deserved to die, because they contributed to the evil of his reign. they should have listened to their gut feelings that said that killing innocent people is wrong. in fact, hitler would have been powerless without those people who contributed. it’s absolutely crucial that the people stand up for themselves, and for what’s right. don’t just go along because of what one says, versus what the other says. think for yourself, and speak for yourself, not for some party. just check it out, is all i’m saying. i’m not coming back to check this, because i’m not arguing.