Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Muddy Political Waters Of Connecticut

Now that the dust has settled on the complicated Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut, my first reaction is where to even start. Boy oh boy, what a convoluted mess. Rather than clarifying very much the election has only created a complicated election mess for November as well as sent contradictory election messages to the major parties.

On one hand it can be said that a very narrow majority of very liberal voters were able to topple a sitting senator over the Iraq War issue within the Democratic Party. The problem is that that this slender majority hardly was enough to send a political earthquake out to revolutionize the party. But it does say that a new "McGovernism" urge is growing within the party due to opposition to the Iraq War.

The slender majority also says something as well. As disgusted as many are with the Iraq War, there is little easy way out of this war now that the mistake has been made to start this war. The urge to simply withdraw from Iraq is not hardly a realistic one from the standpoint of practical foreign policy. One one hand the amount of violence and civil unrest and sectarian violence that we have unleashed in Iraq is certainly the fault of this failed policy to enter Iraq. But the violence level is now so high that basic human decency calls for the U.S. to stand up Iraqi forces enough to defend their own nation against lawlessness because no good policeman can simply allow a climate of crime and lawlessness to flourish.

Another problem is that the Ned Lamont's offer little in the way of a solution to putting the genie of violence that the U.S. has unleashed back into the bottle. It is very naive to expect that if the U.S. simply goes into a new isolationism from the MidEast that Islamic radicalism will not grow over there and come back with terrorism to impact the U.S. here and abroad. On one hand the U.S. presense certainly worsens things in the MidEast, but then again the lack of any U.S. presense over there will also worsen things.

Part of the Ned Lamont campaign was bolstered by the reality that the U.S. cannot win in Iraq. It is a hopeless effort. But the lack of any presense to set up some sort of civil order there will also come back to bite the U.S., so the situation has become something of a terrible "catch 22".

The Ned Lamont campaign also represented a cultural values conflict with the deeply traditionally religious Joe Lieberman. Strong humanist and ACLU traditions run in the Lamont faimly background vs. the much more traditionally strong morality of Joe Lieberman's Orthodox Jewish faith. There is a something of antireligious revolt among some very liberal Democrats that goes far beyond just a reaction to Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson.

The Ned Lamont campaign did involve more of a grassroots populism than many analysts have noted. For a cable TV millionaire to carry out this sense of the "little guy" vs. Washington so well was something of political victory for the Lamont campaign, and does hold some promise for a new leftist populism to inspire voters.

Joe Lieberman has painted himself as something of a sore loser by his plans to run as an independent in November as though the political parties and their primaries now mean nothing. It could also mean that a three way race splits the vote enough that the Republican candidate wins in November. This is hardly any gain for the Democrats or their positions on issues.

Well a book could be written on the election fallout from this primary. But this is the nutshell version. Rather than clarification of very much, this primary only set up the worst possible political mess for the voters of Connecticut in November or gave the Democratic Party nationally any green light for a single policy direct and may have even emboldened Republican supporters of the Bush Iraq War policy somewhat and in the end, hardly setttled anything at all.


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