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Friday, November 10, 2006

Lamont's challenge to Lieberman in Connecticut was a victory for the movement

I was working on a post to explain how we won in Connecticut by targeting Joe Lieberman (even though Ned Lamont did not ultimately defeat him in the general election) when I observed this morning that Markos had already written something like that for DailyKos.

And since our friends over at unSoundPolitics have already tried to jest at Markos for the loss (which is hilarious, considering that we had a huge series of victories while they lost big) I'm going to excerpt him instead:
In some DC circles, there's a lot of chortling about Lieberman. But we did what we set out to do -- to make clear to the party leadership that the war was going to be this year's decisive issue. Until Lamont won his primary, that obvious point wouldn't pierce the DC bubble. So we had to make our point in a dramatic fashion.

Furthermore, Lieberman will caucus with the Democrats. That's fine. Hopefully he's learned his lesson and will actually go back to representing the people of Connecticut. If he does, he'll be fine in six years.

If he doesn't, he'll be right back where we started and will face an even more mature people-powered movement. And all he has to do is look at the 2008 Senate calendar, and the almost dozen serious Democratic pickup opportunities, to realize that any thoughts of switching parties would be a short term power-play at best.

Lieberman has been neutered. If he leaves the caucus for short-term gain, he loses all leverage and power and harms his long-term interests. Yet he doesn't stay in the caucus as a Democrat, but as an independent. And in that capacity he can criticize the Democratic Party all he wants without it being a story of "Democrats versus Democrats". He can flirt with Bush without it being a case of "bipartisanship".

In any case, Lieberman is the old. An artifact of a bygone era. Let him sunset in the Senate as we look to our future leaders -- people like Tester, Webb, Klobuchar, Brown, McCaskill, Whitehouse, and so many exciting new faces in the U.S. House.
Our challenge to Joe Lieberman was a victory for people powered politics. We didn't even expect to beat him in the Democratic primary, but we did, and that had an important effect on dozens upon dozens of races across the country.

Could Lamont have campaigned harder after winning the primary?

Probably. He didn't have to lose momentum by waiting to see if Lieberman just might change his mind. He could have benefited from a slight change in strategy.

I am not sure what other commentators have meant they said our challenge of Joe has given him all this power and leverage. Joe was already a traitor to the party. He could choose to caucus with the Republicans, yes, but what's in it for him?

A final act of desertion would have to be permanent. Neither caucus would tolerate him going back and forth. And if he caucused with the GOP, he could easily end up in a smaller minority after 2008. Joe knows this, and that's why he and the Democratic establishment have made a deal.

Lieberman is indeed ultimately irrelevant. We will continue electing populist progressive champions to the U.S. Senate in the effort to build a people powered governing majority.

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