Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Outing Republicans in Democrat's Clothing

The Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives and have an equal number of seats as the Republicans in the Senate with 49 each. Though tied with the Republicans in seats, the Democrats will control the Senate with the help of two independents, the progressive independent Barry Sanders of Vermont and the conservative independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, joining in a coalition government. Of course there is no question of Sanders' continued affiliation with the Dems since he is far more progressive than the Democrats and so they are the only game in town for him. However, the Democratic control of the Senate will be provisional only as it rests on the tenuous alliance that incumbent Joseph Lieberman will continue with his ties to the Democrats because Lieberman's values and politics are really closer to the Republicans than to the Democrats and his election proves that he no longer needs the Democrats.

In fact, since Lieberman will now be a swing vote for control of the Senate, watch out for Lieberman having far greater influence than he deserves. In order to get Lieberman to help the Democrats secure the majority control the Democrats will have to concede much to Lieberman that they would not have to concede if his alliance was not necessary. Bernie Sanders, the other "independent" in the Senate who is night and day different from Lieberman, would hold significant swing power but as a true progressive he is not the kind of person who would use his position in that way.

There should be at least two additional parties, one for the Sanders style Progressives-in-Democrat-clothing and one for the Lieberman style Republicans-in-Democrat-clothing. Then the regular Democrats and regular Republicans would make much more sense as parties.

Even though Ned Lamont lost to Lieberman in the general election, the great challenge of Ned Lamont resulted in unseating Lieberman in the Democratic primary and was a tremendous success in outing Lieberman for who he was, a Republican in Democrat clothing. Lieberman is now simply a Republican in "independent" clothing. But if truth were told there would be many more flushed out of the same closet Lieberman lived in.

Lieberman won the general election with 50% to Lamont's 40% because the vast majority of Republicans voted against their own party and for him instead: the Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger, only got 10% of the total vote. Even though Lieberman lost their primary, a large 33% minority of Democrats stayed loyal to Lieberman and voted against their own party. Sixty-five percent of the Democrats voted for Lamont. Registered independents split 54% for Lieberman, 35% for Lamont, and 10% for the Republican. Only the Republican vote made it possible for Lieberman to win with 70% of Republicans voting for Lieberman and a mere 21% of Republicans voting for their own candidate. That clearly shows what is wrong with the Lieberman picture.

In other words "Democratic" politicians like Lieberman are as much "real" Republicans as any Republican, but in today's political alignments there is no party for them since they come out of regions where Democrats typically win. Thus, people who want to win an election must call themselves Democrats even if they are truly Republicans. Lamont successfully outed Lieberman as a Republican, and now the irony is that the Democrats will be under the threat of Lieberman who was voted in by Republicans.

Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., the Senate winner in Pennsylvania is another Republican-in-Democratic-clothing who, if he were honest, would join with Lieberman and others to found a new party that reflects their values.

The problem with the two-party dictatorship that we have today goes in two directions. First, it forces the voters into a false choice in which the two parties play a shell game and voters don't get to have a real choice among candidates. Each party wins control with a call that voters "can vote for a change", yet no real change in way the politics are played ever occurs. The only changes are minor and cosmetic. The two parties simply cater to two different constituencies of corporate business, but they both cater to those big business profiteering interests. No alternative party can break through the barrier of credibility because they are not allowed to participate with equal footing.

The voters who buy into the rhetoric of the parties again and again are simply sold a pig in a poke. Republicans find their representatives no more practicing the values they espouse than Democrats find their representatives doing. But because the two parties have made themselves the only game in town, voters live in fear that if they vote their real values by voting for an alternative party that their votes will be “wasted.” Of course this is group folly, because if enough voters stopped playing their vote between the two parties then real change would happen overnight.

Second, the candidates themselves are presented falsely to the public, as Lieberman was for so long, and only when he lost his own party's primary was he forced out of the political closet and is now seen for what he is, neither Democrat nor Republican. That is actually great because it makes for reality testing and sanity. But the Democrats and Republicans prefer to both endorse the system of false party differences in order to confuse the voters and maintain their control of the partisan power games. Candidates are presented as Democrat or Republican, yet the individual differences are more often rhetorical than substantive. While Lieberman was voting Republican he was being praised by Democrats as a good Democrat. This makes illusion and cognitive dissonance the norm in Washington. D.C.

So, thank you to Ned Lamont, who successfully exposed the charade of the two-party dictatorship and the political phoniness of Lieberman's pro-Bush politics. Even though you didn't win your state's election, you did the nation a great service for one brief moment by removing the veil from the bogus political shell game that allows the parties to pass off candidates as their own merely for political expediency rather than real values. If real values controlled who was in the parties, there would be natural alignments of voters into four or five parties, not just two, and voters would be able to face reality rather than be prisoner to the pretense that the two parties speak for all Americans.

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