Monday, August 07, 2006

Crossroad for the Democrats?

Joe Lieberman, very nearly the V-P of the US, is in deep trouble in Connecticut. Ned Lamont, protege of the Kossacks and beloved of the radical left in the States, has come from nowhere at all to challenge the veteran for his senate seat. Connecticut is sufficenntly blue-state that the Democrat nominee should walk the election, and the replacement of the last Democrat Hawk for a very anti-war candidate indeed has several implications for the Dems and for America.

Gary Younge likes to see the situation as one of a struggle for the soul of the Democrats; the Kossacks are jubilant at the prospect of a radical Deaniac shift in the party. Yet there is a great danger here. If the Democrats allow themselves to be characterised by the anti-war faction on the their party, people like Diane Feinstein or Dean himself, they risk looking angry, shouty and, worst of all, like losers. It is arguable that, for the sake of American politics, a strong Democrat party, led from something approaching the centre, is vital. In its absence over the last 12 years, since the 94 republican victory led by Newt Gingrich, has allowed the Republicans virtually unchallenged supremacy. The experience has been debilitating for the party, creating an atmosphere where petty corruption has been allowed to flourish, as well as stunting any sense of purpose or direction.

This is all reminiscent of the last days of John Major, where it was the lack of a credible opposition, more than great love and respect for the Tories, that saw the election victory. But the Tories were exhausted, and the calamity of 97 was a just reward for the government. So for the good of American Democracy the Democrats must be strong. And the concern? If Lamont wins in Connecticut there is little chance that the Democratic presidential nominee can be anything but strongly anti-war. And the last time the Democrats entered an election in war-time with a candidate strongly opposed to that war? 1972 and a certain George McGovern. Not an auspicious omen.


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