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Scott Galindez: Hands Off Connecticut

Hands Off Connecticut

By Scott Galindez
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 24 July 2006

Here we go again … There is a grass-roots movement picking up steam in the nutmeg state, but the old guard is rushing in to maintain the status quo. Bill Clinton is rushing to Connecticut to save Joseph Lieberman for the party insiders who don't want to lose their power in the party.

We saw the same thing when Howard Dean energized the grass roots in 2004. Clinton and others rallied to John Kerry to make sure that a nominee would emerge that would answer to the party's moneyed interests.

This all goes back to the days when Bill Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination and installed members of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) into the key posts in the Democratic National Committee.

The DLC was set up to nominate a moderate southern Democrat for president. Their first attempt in 1988 was spoiled by Jesse Jackson. Jesse stole the show on the first Super Tuesday, enabling Michael Dukakis to win the nomination. Super Tuesday in the south was designed to give a moderate a huge boost early in the process, but Jesse Jackson won more delegates on the first Super Tuesday than anyone else, allowing Dukakis to maintain his front-runner status after winning New Hampshire.

The so-called "liberal" party activists maintained control of the party, and while they didn't win the White House, they maintained control of Congress, something the DLC-led party lost and has never been able to recapture.

Conservatives wanted to make liberal a dirty word, and the DLC helped them. Instead of fighting back and fighting for working people, the DLC said there was a "third way." They watered down the party message, supported free trade and welfare reform, and thwarted efforts for a single payer health care system.

The DLC succeeded in turning the DNC into Republican Lite.

When Joseph Lieberman became chair of the DLC in 1995, he said the following:

The DLC does not simply seek to illuminate a political navigational course between left and right. Rather, we are working to define a wholly different way of governing, a rational way that adapts the best of America's traditions to the post-industrial world in which we live. That requires us to:
  • Abandon the failed programs, not the people those programs were supposed to help.

  • Restore upward mobility for more Americans in the new, high tech, global economy.

  • Support business because that is source of all new jobs.

  • Recreate a sense of community and citizenship based on values we hold in common: faith, family, work, patriotism, and responsibility.

  • Come to grips with the post-Cold War world and protect America's security in that world.

  • Reform government to be smaller and more effective in this information age, and empower people, not bureaucracies, so they can choose solutions that meet their particular needs.

Sounds nice. The only problem is that Ronald Reagan could have given the same speech. The DLC moved the party away from its roots. No longer was the Democratic Party the party that stood up for poor people. You would never hear "poor" come out of a DLC candidate's mouth. The Democratic party was going to be the party of the "middle class," the party of responsibility. Never mind that there are other factors causing poverty; the DLC believes that people have to take of themselves.

That brings us back to Connecticut. A grass-roots campaign has taken shape to remove the ultimate DLC Democrat. Party activists are supporting Ned Lamont, who vows to oppose the policies of George Bush and not support them as Joseph Lieberman and the DLC have been doing.

Lamont has moved into the lead in the latest polls, which has caused the the DLC to run to Connecticut to save their guy. The last thing they want is for the "liberal" party activists to further weaken their influence. They have pulled out their trump card: Bill Clinton will be in Connecticut on Tuesday to campaign for Lieberman.

Once again, the Democratic leadership is shooting itself in the foot. Every time a candidate emerges that excites the grass roots but is not controlled by the old guard, they throw their resources into defeating the fresh face to maintain the status quo. Then they wonder why they can't regain a majority in Congress. Perhaps if they let fresh faces grow the party instead of silencing them, the party might actually win back Congress.

Let the people of Connecticut decide who best represents them. If Bill Clinton wants to help the party, he should be in Tennessee campaigning for Harold Ford, in Ohio for Sherrod Brown, or in Pennsylvania for Bob Casey. He should not be meddling in Connecticut trying to stop a real Democrat from replacing the Republican candidate, Joseph Lieberman.


Scott Galindez is the Managing Editor of Truthout.

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