By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Independent’s day

I didn’t have a horse in the Ned Lamont-Joe Lieberman race, so what I’ve got to say doesn’t really have anything to do with those two particular politicians. But one thing that has struck me about the partisan outrage over Lieberman’s decision to run as an independent is how out of touch — or maybe scared — his enemies really are.

This post on the Daily Kos, headlined “Partisanship is a virtue,” is typical.

In fact, I think we all know that the public despises political parties and finds independent candidates refreshing (even if they rarely get elected). For Lieberman to be able to say he’s running not to serve any party but, rather, the people of Connecticut could prove to be quite effective.

Maybe it won’t work. Maybe Connecticut voters are too angry about Lieberman’s failure to distance himself sufficiently from President Bush. Maybe his overweening sense of moral superiority has finally caught up to him.

But to criticize him for running as an independent is to fail to understand why Americans hate politics.

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Accurate, but … ?


  1. John Galt

    Do believe that much of the outrage is generated by JL leaving the party with substantial sums that he only received because he was a Democrat. This is very understandable, and always had the odor of theft to this citizen.

  2. Al Toid

    I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I’m all for independents running for office, but on the other other hand this has a sort of hedging and sore loser taint to it.If you’re running as a democrat and the party doesn’t pick you in the primary, then you lost. By switching to an independent (his first thought was Democrats for Leiberman, if I remember correctly), he wants another chance.This seems to be all about ego at this point. As if it was Leiberman’s senate seat and he’ll take it any way he can get it, rather than abiding by the will of his party.I didn’t like it when he ran for his senate seat at the same time as he was running for the Vice Presidential office. That had an air of hedging, as if he didn’t want to commit to what he was going to be for the country.I didn’t like the ‘Partisanship is a virtue’ meme when it came from Delay and it still leaves a bitter obstinate taste when it’s coming from Democrats.I guess I still long for the day when politicians would actually work together for the common good rather than bicker bitterly and in the steel cage kabuki plays that passes for Congress these days.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    You know, Lieberman may be a bad example of what I’m trying to say. Because you’re right: He’s trying to have it both ways. This is not a guy who pulled out of the party early in the campaign and offered himself as an independent. Instead, this is a guy who still says, “I’m a Democrat.” Still, this is more likely to offend Democratic activists than it is normal voters.

  4. Anonymous

    America hates politics becasue the two partys are full of self interested partisans. But Lamont is not a self interested partisan. He may be the Demcoratic nominee, but he is a fiercly independent thinker who did something that enraged Democrats in Washington. Hardly what I would call a partisan hack. This guy did not step in line with Democrats — he challenged them. And he won.

  5. Mitch

    What bothers me is Lieberman’s apparent belief that elections are too important to be decided by the people who bother to participate in them.

  6. Lex

    If Lieberman had run for re-election as an independent from the git, I’d have no problem with it. (I don’t always agree with his sanctimony, but that’s a different issue.) But he ran as a Democrat, and he lost in the primary. Sure, it’s legal for him to run now as an independent, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

  7. Stella

    Lieberman is typical of blowhard pols. Too many years being pandered to by lobbyists who basically think he’s a jerk.

  8. Man who ran...for public office, that is

    I grew up in Connecticut and often thought of Lieberman as the worst person to have in the Senate; he represented the 203 area code (ultra-rich NYC suburbs Fairfield and Greenwich) and no where else in the state. Plus, like Stephen Colbert said, he’s my favorite Republican: Democrat Joe Lieberman. Lieberman was a lot like that slimeball Zell Miller, just with the volume turned down.Anyways, more interesting is that people seem to have forgotten that independents winning in Connecticut is hardly new. Lowell Weicker won the governor’s seat in 1990 that way (after losing his Senate to…drumroll, please…Joe Lieberman!) However, he rapidly became very unpopular for implementing the state’s first income tax after vigorously campaigning against that income tax. One can argue that Weicher was a lying scumball or that he was the only person willing to sacrifice his political career to do an unpopular task that had to be done. The bottom line is, he was a one-term governor.Of course, after Weicker we got Rowland, who lasted for nine years of very questionable politics before finally being run out on a rail for corruption charges. So the governor’s office in CT hasn’t been terribly inspiring over the last 15 years.Ultimately, it kinda goes both ways…people seem to like an independent candidate in Connecticut, but at the same time, a lot of people feel they got burned pretty badly the last time they elected an independent candidate. I think in Connecticut the final word is “money talks” and a lot of very rich people kinda like Lieberman because his politics are mighty conservative when it comes to fiscal policy. I wouldn’t be surprised if his “independent” status (meaning, not helping the democrats) actually helps in that regard.

  9. Anonymous

    Too bad Imus is on vacation. Would have liked to hear him rib Lieberman on party loyalty.

  10. Anonymous

    So, Democratic voters in Connecticut have decided that they’re sick of the impotent GOP-lite version of their party that has slogged along and gotten nothing done in the past six years, and they’ve picked someone who actually isn’t afraid to express a strong opinion, this is supposed to be considered a bad thing?

  11. Bill Baar

    After the kind of stuff Lieberman endured about his wife and faith without any statement from Lamont that this had crossed a line, you can’t blame Lieberman at all.The party really deserted him by allowing this stuff.

  12. Anonymous

    Dan, I couldn’t disagree more. Liebman is supposedly a democrat, right? That means he supposedly shares a certain set of core ideals with other democrats. That means that for the greater good of advancing those ideals, he should honor the results of the primary and not risk losing a democratic seat in the Senate. And saying Americans hate politics is overly simplistic. I don’t think it’s true. I wish fewer Americans viewed politics as entertainment, but that’s a different matter.

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