“Real Democrats” and Reality

Anyone who knows me personally, or knows me from various Democratic and left leaning discussion forums, or even just here on DonkeyDigest, is aware of my feelings regarding the Lieberman-Lamont race in Connecticut. From a purely political pragmatic viewpoint, the outcome didn’t (and won’t) mean much to me. Regardless of who wins in November, the senate seat will still be held by a Democrat. That is the most important thing.

However, from a ideological vantage point, the August primary and eventual November decision will be looked upon by the netroots as a victory for the far left wing of the Democratic party if Lamont wins. Even now, people in various “progressive” circles are asking out loud who they should target next. Clinton? Bayh? Biden? But If Lamont loses, that same faction will blame everyone and everything except themselves. That is why from an inter-party strategic perspective, I hope Lieberman wins – to turn back the small section of the Democratic tent who mistakenly believe they are the “real” Democrats and the rest of us are heretics and Republican moles.

Which brings me to the point of what a “real” Democrat is and why such a small group believe they, alone, have that answer. Most of their reasoning is conducted along lines that have little in common with the actual state and history of the Democratic party. And the fact that this group doesn’t hold the reigns of the party, and never really have, only drives the point further home. As an aquaintance of mine once said, “what is repudiated at the polls by the overwhelming majority of Democratic voters cannot be the real face of the Democratic Party. It really is that simple.”

So Ned Lamont wins the Democratic primary in CT by barely 3 points. Certainly not a mandate. But, as I wrote yesterday, Joe Lieberman has a big lead heading into the general election. And reality appears to have smacked Lamont in the face. Kirsten Powers sums it up beautifully:

Reality seems to be invading the Lamont campaign. Turns out you can’t win just with liberal voters. Does this mean Lamont is going to engage in that weasily activity called “bipartisanship?”

As the newly proclaimed Democratic nominee, Mr. Lamont is moving to adopt a general election strategy that attracts more moderate voters, who are crucial to victory in Connecticut elections.

That sounds eerily like the dreaded “triangulation” that helped re-elect the only Democratic president in the last 25 years. Only days ago, triangulation was declared dead by Lamont supporter (and MoveOn founder) Eli Pariser in WaPo:

[The Lamont win] marks the beginning of the end for an old favorite of Washington insiders — the tactics of triangulation. Originally employed as a survival strategy by a Democratic president in the wake of 1994’s Republican revolution, the policy of seizing the political middle ground no longer makes sense in an era when any attempt at bipartisanship is understood as a sign of Democratic weakness and exploited accordingly.

Of course, triangulation is just a dirty word for treating voters in the middle like they matter. Saying they matter is really an understatement, since most elections are decided by moderate voters, and they certainly will decide Lamont’s fate.

Well said. Well said indeed.

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One Response to “Real Democrats” and Reality

  1. Well, I\’d think the first thing to look for in a \”real\” Democrat is someone who\’s actually running in the Democratic party…

    DonkeyDigest: Coming from someone who has a blog called \”Democrats against the DLC,\” I\’m sure you have other criteria beyond that before a Democrat can get your stamp of approval.

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