Saturday, August 12, 2006

CT Primary: the Aftermath

Note: I wrote this Wednesday night, but wasn't able to post until getting home from vacation. Hopefully it holds up. This article from the American Prospect, though a couple months old, nicely captures by analogy how Democrats have been fighting under outdated rules; I'm not actually sure Lieberman deserves inclusion with an undeniably decent guy like Tom Daschle, but the two Senators were both unwilling or unable to realize how their environment had changed.

If the Lieberman defeat is any indication, the Republicans might be about to reap what they've sown over the last 25 years. Rove/DeLay polarization and relentless gerrymandering has driven most of the moderates out of politics; Lieberman is now on the same course, though his removal is a bit more directly related to the changed climate.

"Bipartisanship" only works when both sides legitimately don't want to destroy each other. Read the rhetoric, over the last quarter-century, of guys like Norquist, Abramoff (back when he was a political operative, not a crooked lobbyist), Ralph Reed, and Rove himself. They didn't want to share power with the Democrats; they wanted to wipe them out of existence.

Probably because they were in the majority for so long and saw accommodation as a basic premise of governing, it took the Democrats years and years to realize this. But they do now--and in Lieberman's case, the voters got it before the candidate did. Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer aren't guys I'd want to have over for dinner--but they're exactly the guys I want leading the Democratic campaign operations.

Once this anti-Constitutional Cheney/DeLay strain of Republicanism is crushed, hopefully moderates and principled conservatives will re-emerge in their party--and then it will be safe for Democrats to let go of Al Davis politics ("just win, baby") and start looking for consensus policies again. But in the context of Rovian polarization, Lieberman looked less like a statesman than a quisling. That's why he lost.

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