I find the Joe Lieberman primary loss this past Tuesday very interesting. Not being a Connecticut resident, I really have no say (or even an opinion) on whether or not Ned Lamont will make a better Senator for his constituents than Lieberman was. However, as a lifelong political junkie, I do have an opinion of Joe Lieberman as a United States Senator in general…
Lieberman has been, up until the last few years, a fine conservative Democrat. Until about 2002 or so, there was nothing wrong with that. But the makeup of congress in general is changing, and there is simply no more room – at least at this time in history – for a conservative Democrat. Why do I think this?
Basically, my reasoning is as follows: The best results for the country as a whole occur when congress governs right down the middle (witness the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years, which had little to do with Clinton himself and a lot to do with a split congress). Unfortunately, with the radical far-right theocrats in control of the Republican party, this is not currently possible. Therefore, in order to get things back in the middle, the only solution is to elect far-left liberals to the Democratic side to balance things out. That way, the resulting compromised legislation will be pretty much down the middle.
Therefore, in this 2006 craziness I will extend my support to candidates who lean a lot more left than I am comfortable with – just to make sure that there is a balance to the far right lean on the other side of the aisle. When this period of radicalization is over in a decade or so, we can go back to having moderate “middle of the road” politicians. This is bad timing for Lieberman, but that’s life in the big city.
If I’m correct, then moderate politicians such as Lieberman are worse than useless right now – for both parties. There is no point in having a Senator whose idea of “reaching out to the other side” means voting the way they want, and supporting their president. A Senator’s job is supposed to be to work on carefully crafted compromise legislation that is not what either side actually wants, but is what they can agree on. That also helps to ensure that congress in general doesn’t pass too many pointless or onerous laws (like, for example, the bordering-on-fascist “Patriot Act”).
But most importantly, a Senator’s constitutional duty is to oversee, overrule, and check and balance the Executive branch. In this role Lieberman has failed utterly and completely. His support of the disgusting Terry Schiavo legislation, and his continuing unwavering support for engaging in whatever war King George wants – in whatever country he wants to have it – are just the most egregious examples.
I sure wish someone had run against my democratic Senator, Bill Nelson, this year. He is almost as bad as Lieberman, and is one of the few democrats in the Senate who regularly votes the Bush line. I will hold my nose and vote for him this fall (since the alternative is the unctuous Katherine Harris) but this is the last time for him in my book.
So if you’ve got a choice, vote for the most extreme liberal Democrat you can find. That’s the only way to balance congress back to the middle. When you think about it, this radical idea seems downright… conservative.