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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Moment of truth

Tuesday's Democratic senatorial primary in Connecticut is prompting lots of hand-wringing within the political establishment over what the impending defeat of Joe Lieberman means for progressive politics in the United States.

If you are reading this, you probably have a more than passing acquaintance with the argument that the anti-war "netroots" left is trying to yank the party leftward and away from the Clintonian Third Way path that Beltway insiders see as the salvation of the Democratic Party. Never mind it is an approach that has worked only for Bill Clinton, a unique political figure.

So, the pundits ask, what would a Ned Lamont victory do to the Democratic game plan to recapture Congress and the White House?

The real question, it seems to me, is what the Democrats demonstrating a backbone will do for their electoral prospects. The answer is a great deal.

GOP leaders are already doing what they do best, particularly when their party's favorability ratings are in the toilet: fear and smear. It's a long-held GOP tactic that you can win if you make your opponent the lesser of two evils. Candidates with the people skills of John Kerry and Al Gore are easy to smear.

But funny thing: even Republican candidates are running away from George Bush this year. The president's popularity runs in the upper 30s, nudging 40 percent. The only thing rated lower is the GOP Congress.

So the obvious question: can standing up and being FOR something (in this case opposition to the conduct of the Iraq war and the speedy return of our troops from a religious civil war) be a bad thing?

To Beltway Democrats, who have been scared of their own shadows (and the potential loss of the fruits of victory such as lobbying bucks) for too long the answer is yes.

To the rest of us out in the country, the ability to stand up and articulate a clear position (even if you don't agree -- although in this case I do agree) is a sign of moral courage. Lamont and the netroots are to be commended for honesty and forthrightness, something that has been lacking in Washington.

And for the scaredy-cat Beltway gang -- what have you got to lose? Bush and the GOP are down to their base. Their vile rhetoric is designed to insure the dead-enders show up at the polls and vote against the abortion, gay marriage and treason ticket. You know, the Mel Gibson-types.

You are never going to get those voters, so why worry about them? Why not try to encourage people fed up with the status quo and the vile state of the nation to turn out? All that might happen is you get a chance to lead? You can do that, can't you?


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