Which is finished with the 2000 election and the related fiasco in Florida, there appeared bumperstickers reading "Sore-Loserman, 2000" in a parody of the "Gore-Lieberman, 2000" bumpersticker. (This was pretty funny one that ranks right up there with my favorite from 2004, "Bush-Kerry, 2004"). Well, now it appears that one-half of the less-than-dynamic duo, Joe Lieberman, is up to his old tricks once again and his recent actions just might warrant the printing of a new bumpersticker reading "Sore Loserman, 2006" (without the hyphen, because it's just him this time; and the year updated).
"takethemud," you are probably thinking, "Why are you calling Joe Lieberman a sore loser LOL?"
Because Mr. Lieberman is bolting away from the Democratic Party, his party, faster than Joltin' Joe DiMaggio ran the bases. Hummmm, how about this for a Lieberman nickname: Boltin' Joe?!?!? Going once, going twice, sold!!! Boltin' Joe it is.
So let's dig a little deeper and get just a little background ole Boltin' Joe. He's been a democrat since at least 1970, when he ran for the Connecticut state senate. Since then, he served as a CT State Senator, the CT Attorney General, and a US Senator. He was also the Dem's nominee for Vice President in 2000 and one of the candidates for the Dem's presidential nomination in 2004. To me, that sounds like a real party man, somebody with loyalty who's going to stick with his party. And right up until tonight, that's what Boltin' Joe did.
See, earlier tonight, things changed for Boltin' Joe. In a come-from-behind victory, Joe lost the democratic primary (and consequently the party's nomination for US Senator) to Ned Lamont, a businessman turned politician., who campaigned on an anti-war platform and defeated Mr.
* On May 2, 2006, Lieberman was up by 46 points over Mr. Lamont in a poll.
* In June, Lieberman was up 46% - 29% over Lamont in polls.
* On July 20, 2006, Lieberman was in a "statistical tie" with Mr. Lamont, with a slight edge of 51% - 47%.
* On August 3, 2006, Lamont was up by 13 points over Lieberman in a poll. (A lot can change in 3 months)
* On August 8, votes were cast and Lamont defeated Lieberman 52% - 48%.
(FYI: I will not be discussing whether Ned Lamont is a viable candidate or how this will affect the Democrat's and Republican's chances of victory in November. I am concerned with the integrity of the political process, how it affects democracy in America, and what it says about Boltin' Joe & the Party System.
But rather than stick with his party and respect the wishes of the party faithful, which is what you'd hope somebody decent like Lieberman whose given and taken so much from the Democratic party, Boltin' Joe, ever the sore loser, got the hell out of Dodge and formed the "Connecticut for Lieberman Party." Now he says he's gonna run as an independent.
Now is it just me, or does it not make sense to run as an independent after you already ran as a Democrat? I mean, if Boltin' Joe started off as an independent, I'd be singing praises to the heavens, being the perpetual third-party lover that I am. (More on that later)
But when you start off as a Democrat for the primaries, you're kinda saying to everybody: "I cast my lot with this party and this process. I'm going to take part in these primaries. If I win, I reap the rewards and will run for President with the machinery of one of the two big parties behind me. But if I lose, I will concede defeat and throw my weight behind the victor."
See, what Sore Loserman was saying was something entirely different: "I'm going to get in on this Democratic primary thing because, you know, I'm entitled to the nomination on account of having been a senator for so damned long. If I win, well, it's what I was entitled to. But if I lose, then it's a perversion of the party nominating process and contrary to the will of my country and state, so I'll run as an independent."
It's almost like somebody running for a Presidential election, then, when they lose, violently overthrowing the government to become President. Not exactly a tame analogy, but the principle is the same: somebody tries to get what they want through the established means of getting it and then, when they lose, they take steps outside of the system they implicitly endorsed by getting involved in that system's established processes.
And to add another twist in the process, Boltin' Joe said that if even if he lost his party's nomination, he'd be Boltin' home to the Democratic Party, continuing to present himself as a "petitioning Democrat" (FN1) and vowing to sit as a Democrat in the senate (FN2). (News Flash Joe: You get to be a Democrat if your party nominates you to represent it. Yours picked Ned Lamont!)
It sounds to me like Joe was determined to have his cake and eat it too; that is to say, take part in the Dem's primaries and run for the Senate regardless of the outcome. Maybe Boltin Joe's just plain ol' hungry to spend another 6 cushy years in the upper house of the US Congress, making a $hitload of money, enjoying the spoils of political office. Being the 3-term senator that he is, maybe he thinks it's somehow his birthright to go back to Washington.
If that were the case, it'd sound awfully aristocratic. And aristocracy is always awful. There's nothing is worse for this country than an aristocratic class of any kind, be they aristocrats who derive their sense of nobility through the fortune of their good birth or aristocrats of the self-annointed variety who derive their sense of nobility from the institutions they pass through and persons they know. America is about people earning what they get through their labors mixed with good fortune, never as a spoil of privilege.
But whatever the reason for his bolt from the party that provided fuel for his political machine all these years, the fact is that Boltin Joe dipped out. On principle, I just can't say that's a good thing.
Now, I said earlier that if Boltin' Joe were a third party candidate from the beginning, I'd be singing his praises. And that's the true. I think third party candidates are necessary for democracy to progress. The more third parties are able to take part in the political process, the more our public discourse will resemble the ideal of the public square. Instead of political discourse being like a rowdy and boorish game of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, with two little kids pounding on buttons trying to injure the opponent, it would be become something more sophisticated, strategic, and representative. With more voices and parties vying for votes, our political discourse might elevate itself to the level of, say, Hungry Hungry Hippoes, with four little kids working away to get as many of us into their camp as they could. In all seriousness, it's tough to decide what's better for the American system - Mr. Lamont winning as an outsider or Mr. Lieberman running as a third party candidate.
* On the one hand, there is a legitimate third party candidate running, which should broaden the discourse. Who knows, maybe it will get people talking about the importance of minority voices to maintaining the health of the political process, the potential for expanded democracy made possible by Instant Runoff Voting, and other issues relevant to increasing the viability of third parties.
* On the other hand, Mr. Lamont was a political outside who won the nomination of a major party to a pretty serious office. This in itself is a big deal. Outsiders have the greatest potential to shake things up and that's a good thing. At the very least, challenging the accepted ways of doing things makes it necessary for the guardians of the status quo defend their methodology. If a single weakness is exposed and the process become stronger, then there was gains to be had. So, I'm always happy when I see an outsider win or run for something, anything - think: Arnold for Governor, Ralph Nader for President, Ned Lamont for Democratic Senate Candidate, John Q. Independent for Local School Board Seat #3.
Only time can tell whether Boltin' Joe's big jump to an independent candidacy will pay off for the democratic process. Until then, we should be content with knowing that people want to be Senators so badly they'll eschew common sense and their own principles just to take a shot at it. Or maybe that knowledge should make us discontent.