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June 20, 2006

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For some people, open primaries are a sign of the health of our democratic system, a demonstration that people with competing viewpoints can hash their differences out through the electoral process and find out whose views are compelling to a majority of voters. Of course, I suppose it looks different if you're the incumbent who might lose his job. Then it's absolutely terrible that a majority of primary voters might believe that Ned Lamont represents their views better than Joe Lieberman, because that would show the voters are not open to "different" views, where "different views" is defined as "the views of Joe Lieberman."

Awful, isn't it? And if Katherine Harris loses her Senate bid in Florida this year, that will show the voters of Florida just aren't open to the views of Katherine Harris, and wouldn't that be just awful for democracy?

It seems like there ought to be more contested primaries in this country, in general. It's flat-out amazing how incumbents like Lieberman can develop this absolute attitude of entitlement towards their position, as if God Himself chose Joe Lieberman to speak for the people of Connecticut.

As Hilzoy points out, it's an oversimplification to say this primary challenge is solely about Lieberman's views on the war. But what if it was? When asked to identify the most important issues facing the country today, voters overwhelmingly identify the Iraq war. If voters strongly disagree with Lieberman's position on the most important issue of the day, would it be so undemocratic to recall him over that issue?

In other briar patch news, I heard that Bush is going to resign if people don't start being nicer to him.

"Prizing genuine pragmatism, reasonableness, and statesmanship is a good thing. Prizing your reputation as a pragmatic, reasonable, statesmanlike politician is something else entirely."

That is so exactly my problem with much of what passes for international diplomacy. I know I'm beating a very dead horse, but that is my nature. :)

I can't really talk about the topic of the post directly because I'm not a Republican to get involved directly in Democratic inner workings. So I'll stop rambling now.

And if Katherine Harris loses her Senate bid in Florida this year, that will show the voters of Florida just aren't open to the views of Katherine Harris, and wouldn't that be just awful for democracy?

It's quite possible Harris won't even make it out of the primaries, although who's running against her is, well, a personal-injury attorney who's well to the right of Harris, politically. I don't think either of them stand a chance against Bill Nelson, though, Harris' "widow's mite" notwithstanding.

So Lieberman's message is "If you vote for my opponent in the primary, I'll work to prevent the Democrats from retaining the seat." Cute, Joe, real cute.

First, I think that if Joe Lieberman is going to use the switchover tactic (to the Independent party) to stay in the race he should have the guts to do it from the start. But it's evident he has no understanding of what he himself stands for (voting discrepancies) or whom he represents. So this selfish tactic isn't surprising.

As far as the actual election goes, I am assuming the real issue here is fear that if Lieberman runs as an Independent against a Democrat and Republican, amongst others, he might split the Democratic vote, enabling a Republican to win.

Frankly, after years of Lieberman saying one thing while in actuality the truth is another, or voting against his previous statements…. Let’s get a Senator that actually votes for what he believes in, stands by his vote, and doesn’t play the back-and-forth game to appease uninformed voters.

On a completely different note I wish the United States were completely nonpartisan. Every individual runs for office based upon his or her true ideology and may the best man or woman win. Seriously though, there truly is no point to political parties besides huge purses used during elections. Maybe a nonpartisan system would get the American people to actually research running-platforms rather than deciding between parties. Imagine how productive our legislative branch could be. But this will never happen.

(Additionally, allow voters to decide every 4 years on the presidential ballot whether Congress deserves a raise. That happened again this week and is ludicrous.)

IntricateHelix:
You wrote:

"As far as the actual election goes, I am assuming the real issue here is fear that if Lieberman runs as an Independent against a Democrat and Republican, amongst others, he might split the Democratic vote, enabling a Republican to win"

The bulk of the analysis I have seen so far on the Connecticut Senate race seems to deal more with the fear that Joe Lieberman running in a 3-way race is more likely to split the Republican vote, and get back into the Senate by peeling off enough conservative/pro-war "security" votes from both parties to get a plurality.

Either way, the issue (for Lieberman) does seem to be more one of an astonishing sense of entitlement to his Senate seat. That he might actually have to go out and justify his tenure to the electorate (still less his own Party) looks to have purely gobsmacked him - and his campaign so far seems to show it.
Sorry, Joe: it's this little process we have here in America: it's called "democracy".

Hil,

Perfect. Just perfect. I've struggled to articulate just what it is about Lieberman that drives 'us' nuts and you seem to have nailed it here.

"As far as the actual election goes, I am assuming the real issue here is fear that if Lieberman runs as an Independent against a Democrat and Republican, amongst others, he might split the Democratic vote, enabling a Republican to win."

Um, this doesn't accord well with the reality of Connecticut politics. Lieberman would draw more Republican and independent votes as an Independent than Democratic, and would stand a good chance of winning. A Republican in those circumstances: not so much.

"Seriously though, there truly is no point to political parties besides huge purses used during elections."

This is pretty much too silly to be worth discussing.

If they have "no point," (i.e., the writer doesn't like them), how do you explain how they have happened to occurred?

"Maybe a nonpartisan system would get the American people to actually research running-platforms rather than deciding between parties. Imagine how productive our legislative branch could be. But this will never happen."

Just so. I'm not applauding parties as a purely wonderful thing; not at all; but they exist for eminently good reasons (meaning, powerful reasons, not reasons that we have to applaud), which is that they serve a necessary and useful purpose.

"Additionally, allow voters to decide every 4 years on the presidential ballot whether Congress deserves a raise."

I prefer the proposition that Congressional pay raises be proportional to raises in the minimum wage. (About which I yesterday pointed to this, incidentally.)

Additionally, allow voters to decide every 4 years on the presidential ballot whether Congress deserves a raise

a Straight Dope fan ?

The guy's also real pro-nanny state. Treating adults, and content they wish to view, like children. I can't stand the whiny prick.

I took a look at Lieberman's official bio, just to see what profession he's not pursuing while in the Senate. Wow. The guy's been in elected office since three years out of law school. He probably can't even imagine not being in government.

Steve: It seems like there ought to be more contested primaries in this country, in general.

And there would be, if the campaign financing system weren't a form of legalized bribery. Only self-funding millionaires like Lamont can even consider it, now.

It takes a couple of million to mount a serious Congressional race in many districts. Senate races in all but the smallest states run $8-20 million. (More in the whopper media markets like Calif, NY, NJ).

"It takes a couple of million to mount a serious Congressional race in many districts."

And even when you have it, it's all but irrelevant in something like 380+ of the 435 House races, due to the fix being in via gerrymandering. (More, really, but I'm trying to be "conservative" in my estimation.)

Plus, of course, the amazingly huge advantages of incumbency.

It's a nearly completely broken system, as well as being deeply corrupt. We have less turnover than the Soviet Congress of Deputies ever had, and this has been the case for many many years now.

It continues to baffle me how many people--primarily Republicans, but also supporters of Lieberman in general--insist on parroting the canard that this is all about Lieberman's support for the Iraq War. I mean, yes, that's certainly part of it, but it defies logic and sense to suppose that's all of it--after all, there's plenty of Democratic Senators who voted for the Iraq War, and more than a few who are still in favor of staying in Iraq for one reason or another. And there's certainly no shortage of Democrats who've voted on the Republican side of various issues, from abortion to taxes.

The problem is Lieberman's consistent track record for putting his career advancement and image ahead of the Democratic party. He's the go-to guy when a pundit or talk show needs to quote or book a Democrat who's willing to make waves by attacking his own people and party.

His aggressive nanny-statism doesn't help, either. Anecdotal and all that, but I have a friend who's very liberal, but whose major "single issue" is censorship. Lieberman's presence on the ticket, combined with the thought of Tipper Gore as First Lady, was what flipped him to vote for Bush in 2000. Hell, if Lieberman ran for President again in 2008 I'd have to think pretty hard about which Republican was running before I decided what lever to pull.

Anecdotal and all that, but I have a friend who's very liberal, but whose major "single issue" is censorship. Lieberman's presence on the ticket, combined with the thought of Tipper Gore as First Lady, was what flipped him to vote for Bush in 2000.

No offense, but if your description of your friend as "very liberal" with a focus on "censorship" is right, he sounds like kind of a moron. N'est-ce pas?

And even when you have it, it's all but irrelevant in something like 380+ of the 435 House races, due to the fix being in via gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering doesn't have a lot to do with the lack of contested primaries, though, although machine politics does. Remarkably, though, Lamont has received endorsements from a number of Connecticut insiders, including a former CT Dem. Party Chair. The problem arises when the party throws so much weight behind one candidate that it's impossible for any other contenders to get air.

No offense, but if your description of your friend as "very liberal" with a focus on "censorship" is right, he sounds like kind of a moron.

Hey, there's one in every crowd. I have a friend whose sole reason for voting against the Kerry-Edwards ticket was that he has doctors in the family and Edwards used to be a med mal lawyer.

There's no accounting for the endless variety of human motivation. What you have to wonder is, for each person you know who votes for one of these "quirky" reasons, how many people that you don't know are casting their vote for the same reason? Surely your friend, or my friend, can't be the only one who fits the bill.

To be more clear, the moronic part is not being very liberal and focused on censorship, it's having those qualities and thinking that they constitute a reason to vote Bush-Cheney over Gore-Lieberman.

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