August 09, 2006

Joe And Me

I'd like to step back a bit with some personal reflections about Joe Lieberman. Joe and I go way back. No, we've never actually met. But my own political history is very much tied to his career as CT's Senator over the last 18 years. Anyone who's scanned through my bio posts knows I was born into the Democratic party - the Democratic party as it was, that is. In 1988, I was 21 years old and stepped into the voting booth for the first time (in '86, I was nineteen but I was too engrossed in college life to be distracted by a mid-term election). Joe Lieberman was CT's Attorney General and ran to unseat the then-Republican Lowell Weicker (a true megalomaniacal douche bag if there ever was one).

I voted Democrat right down the line. Didn't even consider doing otherwise. That's what I had been brainwashed to do: don't think, just vote. Joe won and I was proud to have been part of it. Less than a year later, he was the keynote speaker and at my college graduation ceremonies. No, I don't remember specifically what he said but remember that the words came from someone of integrity and conviction. Joe was a good guy, or a "mensch" as the Jews would say.

Throughout the nineties, I was a loyal Democrat. I voted for Clinton, twice (even though I wasn't all that thrilled about it the second time around). And as the President became mired in scandal and the deception to cover it up, I kept silent. I let others be the apologists for his behavior. I'm not a Clinton-hater. I don't even dislike the guy. But in 1998, Joe Lieberman expressed what a lot of Democrats were thinking but didn't have the courage to say. That wasn't easy for him to do. He did it because he felt it was the right thing to do. Many in his party never forgave him for that.

I felt re-registering as "unaffiliated" was the right thing to do. And I did so, later that same year.

In 2000, I made a decision to vote for George W. Bush. Later that summer, Joe Lieberman became the VP candidate for the Democrats. If there was one thing that could have made me vote Democrat that year, then that would have been it. But it wasn't enough. My mind was made up. I had had it with them. Throughout the campaign, Joe maintained a level of dignity and class that made me wish there were more Democrats still around that were like him. Most of his own party didn't feel he was partisan enough. Not vicious enough. If you ask me, we already had plenty of that.

Over the last six years I've watched as the Democrats have treated Joe very shabbily. He voted his conscience and he still voted 90% of the time with his party. Hell, I'd be thrilled if we had more Republicans like that. In 2004, Presidential primary voters wouldn't give Joe the time of day. Even Al Gore pushed him aside so he could jump on the Howard Dean caravan-to-nowhere. Joe had pretty much lost all influence within that party by that time, just as so many moderate Democrats had.

Now, after three terms of service to his State and his country, they've formally kicked him out. I left of my own accord because I didn't feel welcome anymore. He held out to the last, long enough to be the scapegoat for the those who could be vicious enough. And one by one, his friends and his colleagues are turning their backs on him because they're afraid of the bullies.

Now the same crew who forced him out are trying to bully him out of the race entirely because they know that the majority of voters in CT don't reflect the same sentiment as half of the State's Democrat primary voters. If they're so convinced that they represent the majority and if they're so sure that they can convince 51% of the electorate that Ned Lamont is the man that CT should send to the Senate, why be so adamantly opposed to Lieberman running as an independent? What happened to "let the voters decide"? All the voters?

Because they know that even though CT is a "Blue State", it's full of independents that vote for the candidate not the party. They wear it like a badge of honor and they'll tell anyone who asks (even if they didn't ask). Joe Lieberman is popular enough with them that they will pull the lever for him in November.

So now, as an ex-donkey, I watch as my old party implodes and becomes a lock-step Left-wing caricature of itself. It took a true act of cannibalism to accelerate its eventual demise. I feel badly that it had to come at the expense of good and decent man like Joe Lieberman. But what is happening now must run its course. The party as it exists today must eventually die off or become so marginalized that it creates a vacuum for another, healthy, constructive party to fill.

For more reax to last night's results, read through NRO's symposium on the topic.

Posted by: Gary at 03:00 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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