Ned Lamont has beaten Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary election in Connecticut to run as the party’s Senate candidate on November’s ballot. With 97% of the vote counted, Lamont held a lead of less than 3.5%. My mild disappointment is not that Lamont won, but the small margin. If Connecticut were in the throes of an anti-incumbent fever, Lamont would have won over Sen. Joseph Lieberman by a landslide. On the flip side, another incumbent lost yesterday: Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney lost her bid for reelection.
I will go on record now and say that November’s race between Lamont as Democrat and Lieberman as Democratic Independent will go one of two ways. Either, Lamont will succeed in painting Lieberman as a divider of Connecticut and the Democratic Party and a man who doesn’t like playing by the party’s rules, or Lieberman will succeed with a lot of help from Independent and Republican voters who see more conservative prospects from Sen. Joe than their own Republican candidate (who has little chance in this predominantly Democratic state). You can hold me to this call.
Voters in Connecticut, largely a liberal lot, did not have a clear 100% Democrat choice. But then, it is getting harder and harder to define just what a 100% Democrat is these days. Ned Lamont’s stand on some fiscal issues side with Republican and conservative leanings, Iraq excepted. On social issues, his campaign site reads from centrist to liberal on issues like women’s right to choose and civil rights. Actually, both Lamont and Lieberman are moderates straddling the right-left divide on some issues. It is encouraging that Democratic voters are willing to entertain candidates who are not extremists from their party’s fringe. However, it also appears this election was largely a single-issue referendum on the war in Iraq, at least if the campaign rhetoric is the gauge.
Still, I am encouraged. I continue to support the voting out of irresponsible incumbents who choose personal and local gains over what is required for the health and future of the nation. I believe invading Iraq damaged our nation’s reputation in the world, and seriously impeded our leadership role in world affairs. The anti-incumbent movements springing up around the country are not referendums on Iraq. While a Senator has an obligation to represent their state’s constituents, what good does it do to serve local constituents if constituent greed and short-sightedness bankrupts the whole nation?
A senator has an equal, if not greater obligation, to vote for policy that insures the health and well-being of the nation. A state cannot succeed if the United States fails. The reckless fiscal policy of our federal government threatens the economic health of the nation and all its states and people as the Baby Boom generation moves into retirement. Therefore, it is desperately important that voters look to the nation’s future and cast their ballots with that priority set at least as high as their preferences for state issues. No good that will come of Senators bringing home the pork if, the nation’s indebtedness becomes unsustainable.
I am encouraged that a national issue was at the heart of this Connecticut campaign, and not which candidate could bring home more pork. Lest we forget, one million dollars of pork for Connecticut comes with a price tag: 49 million dollars of pork for 49 other states. Would you pay 50 times a product’s price to insure you get one of the 50 items available? McKinney’s and Lieberman’s losses yesterday were a first installment on what I hope will be a growing movement of anti-incumbent sentiment aimed at irresponsible politicians, and which will demand the nation’s future be the criterion for voting in November’s elections.