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Lamont's Victory & Lieberman's Insult to Democracy & the Democratic Party

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At the end of every good horror movie, when the hero seems finally to have vanquished the enemy, there is always that last moment where the enemy, lying lifeless on the floor, finds a last gasp to fire off one final round, usually dealing a fatal blow to one of the good guys. In the incredible story that concluded tonight in Connecticut, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Ned Lamont was the successful hero, representing the hopes and dreams or ordinary citizens by mounting a truly grassroots campaign against Joe Lieberman's massive warchest of corporate cash and universal support from Washington, D.C.'s cabal of lobbyists, pundits and insiders. Yet, in his last coughing gasps, Lieberman is now saying he will, in fact, fire off that last spiteful bullet - right into the gut of the Democratic Party.

That's right - Lieberman is announcing he will move forward with plans to abuse loopholes in Connecticut's election laws, ignore Democratic Party voters who voted in our democratic process for change, and mount a Lieberman for Lieberman Independent bid. Yes, you read that right - the Senator who has in the final days of Democratic primary campaigning been running around claiming that he gets the message and realizes he no longer should enable George W. Bush's right-wing agenda now is acknowledging that he will try to rely on hard-core Republican voters in a general election contest in a desperate attempt to hold onto power.

Understand how insulting this is - Connecticut taxpayers just spent a large sum of money to hold a democratic primary election in a country founded on small-d democratic principles. An 18-year incumbent who had 100 percent name ID and a $12 million warchest (thanks to, among others, the pharmaceutical and financial services industry) was unable to win that election. Now, instead of respecting small-d democracy or the party he has spent the last week pledging his devotion to, he's running to hard-core GOP voters in Connecticut and begging them to help him hold onto his job in the Senate club.

Make no mistake about it - be prepared for Lieberman, the Enron lobbyists, corporate lawyers, Establishment pundits and other assorted characters in the Washington brothel to run out immediately and trumpet how incredible it was that Lieberman got so close. What they want to do is pretend that Lieberman hasn't spent 18 years in the Senate, wasn't have every single advantage, didn't outspend his opponent with a massive corporate-funded warchest, and was, instead, the courageous underdog who did not ignore mainstream public opinion with his stands pushing the Iraq War, Social Security privatization and corporate-written trade deals that sold out American jobs. That storyline provides a convenient excuse to justify Lieberman ignoring Connecticut voters, Connecticut taxpayers who funded the election, and all the democratic principles this country is supposed to be based on. It provides a consultant-packaged excuse for Lieberman to ignore voters and insult the Democratic Party by running as a party of one, and potentially throwing the general election to the Republican Party.

Lieberman's concession speech announcing that he will abandon the Democratic Party that he has spent the last week transparently pleging his fealty to is classic Lieberman. You may recall that after he was crushed in the New Hampshire primary, he proudly boasted that he was in a "statistical dead heat for fourth place" - as if he really thought voters were stupid enough to think he had won. Similarly today, he is claiming that the Democratic Party primary election is just the "first half" of the election process - again, thinking voters are so stupid, they don't see that what he's really doing is giving the big middle finger to American democracy.

But voters do see what's going on - and that's why Lieberman, an 18-year incumbent who outspent his opponent, was handed a crushing defeat tonight: because ordinary people realize that Joe Lieberman and the Washington Establishment he represents has for too long been allowed to sellout their constituents and this country as a whole. Ned Lamont is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. Every single Democratic officeholder in this country has an obligation to respect the Democratic Party primary election that took place tonight, lest they too go on record as saying Democratic Party voters and America's democratic process as an afterthought in comparison to their own personal political ambitions.

This is an incredible victory tonight. Ordinary people showed that no politician - even a snake like Lieberman with every single advantage - is above American democracy. Though Lieberman and the lobbyists who are backing him would like everyone to forget about democracy, Ned Lamont tonight showed that ordinary people in this country still have power and that no Senate seat is the exclusive property of any one individual.
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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)

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