Monday, July 31, 2006

A Blogger's Appeal to Connecticut Democrats

Dear Connecticut Democrats,

As Ned Lamon's historic campaign to unseat Senator Joe Lieberman draws to a close, the considerable forces of the Democratic Establishment, including those in the media, have settled on one last-ditch defense: the idea that this should not be a "one issue" race based on Lieberman’s alliance with George Bush on the issue of the Iraq War.

Put aside for a moment the callousness of this type of spin, which treats the thousands of unnecessary American deaths in Iraq as 'just' one issue to be given equal weight with all the others. I’d like to take a moment of your time, on the eve of the primary on August 8th, to ask you to consider if Joe Lieberman truly represents Democratic party values on many issues besides the Iraq War.

The talking point making the rounds among Joe Leiberman's establishment supporters is that Senator Lieberman, not withstanding Iraq, is a pretty good all-around Democrat. But is he?

– In 2004 Joe Lieberman voted for Republican-sponsored "tort reform" the Orwellianly-named “Class Action Fairness Act,” which gave George Bush his first victory of his second term, and closed the door to many class-action lawsuits of the type which had previously held automobile companies, tobacco companies, and asbestos manufactures liable for fraudulent practices and other wrongdoing. Sen. Harry Reid, who opposed the bill, said: "The real world effect of this law will be that when a phone company systematically bills customers for services they had cancelled, or a plumbing company routinely overcharges customers by $10, those practices will not be brought to light."

-In 2005 the Republican Bankruptcy Bill made it harder for individuals (but not corporations) to declare bankruptcy, most notably in the one-third of bankruptcy cases which are primarily due to sudden, catastrophic medical illness. Lieberman spoke for it and against it, voted for cloture (cutting off debate and moving the bill toward passage) and then voted against the bill.

– In 2005 Lieberman abstained in a close vote which saw the passage of CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, even though 27 Republicans withstood immense pressure from the White House to stand with organized labor and the environment. Of course Lieberman was a reliable supporter of NAFTA, which started the flight of jobs to low-wage countries lacking any meaningful labor rights.

The fact of the matter is that the Democratic Establishment is frightened of a Lamont victory in next Tuesday’s primary. Why? Because it would signal that elected Democrats cannot continue to ignore the interests of their own constituents in matters regarding corporate privilege.

A Lamont victory tells Democratic power brokers that they cannot continue to vote to ship American jobs overseas in the name of "free trade", cannot vote with the telecommunications giants on the issue of net neutrality, in short, cannot talk one way and act another simply because Democrats have nowhere else to go.

For too long, powerful Democrats have been on the same corporate campaign contribution gravy train as Republicans. Yet they feel safe because the alternative to voting for them is thoroughly unacceptable.

In Ned Lamont we have a clear and courageous example of how the primary system is supposed to work. Put simply, primaries are there to keep elected politicians true to the principles on which they were first elected. Without vigorous and robust primaries, politicians become institutions unto themselves, barely different from those whom they were sent to Washington to oppose.

In mounting a dead-serious challenge to Joe Lieberman, Ned has already made history, and perhaps shortened our ill-conceived occupation of Iraq by years. And perhaps, thus, saved countless young American lives. On Tuesday, August 8th, please make Ned Lamont your Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Connecticut, a nation's tired eyes are upon you.

Ralph Lopez
blogger at

pls. post, circulate


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