What We Are Recovering From
Occasionally, when I am out there trying to get more folks to go to our wonderful and informative blog, I am asked if I am recovering from being a liberal. Well, not quite. Both Denis and I are recovering, but our recovery involves getting back to being liberals.
Here’s the problem in two words, Bill Clinton.
There has been no president in recent memory to leave office with a popularity level as high as President Clinton. There probably never was another president who rose to the intellectual heights of Clinton. Those two things would have been great had Bill Clinton really been one of us, but he wasn’t. In fact, Bill Clinton may be the best Republican ever elected to the Presidency as a Democrat.
Since the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has tried to turn ‘liberal” into a dirty word. Yet, when one looks at the true facts, most of what we take for granted as being part of our “rights” in this country is the direct result of liberal initiatives. Things like Social Security, Medicare, The TVA, The FAA, civil rights and countless others were born in the minds of liberal leaders of this country, men like FDR, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. Since the end of the Second World War, the Republicans have tried, time and again, to destroy the liberal legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and have failed miserably at it until the advent of Ronald Reagan.
Reagan, somehow convinced us that many of these programs, the ones that helped bring the country out of the depression created by his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, were Un-American. It wasn’t the first time that the Republicans had played this trick. “Tail Gunner” Joe McCarthy, the Republican Senatorial witch hunter of the ‘50s, tried to brand us as Commies. The Republican members of the John Birch Society called us traitors in the ‘60s. By the ‘80s, Reagan and his cohorts had just turned liberalism into an obscenity, something that was not even uttered in Republican polite company.
By 1992, a new breed of Democrat had come to life, one which believed that we could win elections by moving away from our liberal ideals toward a more centrist position. Our values no longer mattered, it seemed. Instead, all that mattered was winning elections. Bill Clinton, the Democratic candidate for President that year, followed the centrist path toward victory. The problem was that each time Clinton moved more and more toward the center, the Republicans moved more and more toward the right. In the end, the Republicans gave up their position as the loyal opposition and became a group determined to overthrow the duly elected administration through trumped up impeachment charges. When that didn’t work, they decided to use any means necessary to win the election of 2000, including outright voter fraud.
They nominated the furthest right wing nut candidate that they could find to challenge Clinton’s Vice President, Al Gore. I am not quite certain that they ever expected George W. Bush to legitimately win this election. I am certain, however, that they had a plan to make it appear that he had won, and I am equally certain that they successfully implemented that plan.
To counter Bush’s right wing mania, Gore chose conservative Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. Lieberman is so far off to the right, as far as Democrats go, that many of us wonder why he maintains his allegiance to the party. Lieberman probably was chosen to be Gore’s running mate because he had been the only Democrat in the United States Senate to denounce Bill Clinton during his trial. Gore somehow miscalculated the opinion most folks had of Clinton and, instead, decided to distance himself from the incumbent president. In picking Lieberman, he decided that he had the guy who would set him apart as being his own man, a man that lost his own state, Tennessee, in the general election of 2000.
Lieberman hedged his bets and ran for re-election to the Senate while running for the Vice Presidency. Many considered Lieberman to be somewhat sleazy for doing that, but in the end, he remained in the Senate while losing the in the national election.
During the 5½ years of the administration of Bush 43, Lieberman became the President’s chief Democratic cheerleader in the Senate. The interesting thing about his position is that it became totally obvious in light of the rise of a new breed of liberals and progressives. The birth of a stronger liberal media, one which finally came out from behind the shadows of the conservative controlled main stream press, aided us in understanding that not everyone that calls themselves a Democrat deserves the title. When added to the blogosphere, we came to know that Joe Lieberman was not one of us.
This led to a strong challenger in Lieberman’s re-election bid this year, a gentleman named Ned Lamont, who is currently leading Lieberman in the Quinnipiac Poll by a tally of 51 to 47 percent. Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war and his generally pro-Bush voting record seem to be the reasons for his loss of popularity. Once thought to be unbeatable in Connecticut, it appears that Senator Joe may be on his way out the door.
That is, of course, if you don’t consider his current supporter in chief, former President Bill Clinton.
In recent days, Clinton has been seen in Connecticut campaigning for and with Senator Lieberman. Perhaps, it is because the former president thinks that a Lieberman loss in the primary could stand in the way of the Democrats regaining the Senate. While that might be an issue of some concern, polls show that if Lamont wins the primary against Lieberman, he will take the race to become Connecticut’s junior senator by a margin of 45 – 22 with 24% remaining undecided. Since conventional wisdom generally divides the undecideds equally, this poll would give Lamont a victory margin of 23% over the presumptive Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger. Those numbers would tend to take away any credibility from the theory that a Lieberman loss would put the Senate back into Republican hands.
No, I don’t believe that Clinton’s real reasons for campaigning on behalf of Joe Lieberman have anything to do with a potential loss of the Senate majority. I believe that Bill Clinton is campaigning for Lieberman because they are almost political birds of a feather, and that means they are not really Democrats.
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), whose politics are similar to those of her husband and Senator Lieberman, is also facing a primary challenger this September, although there is little likelihood that Jonathan Tasini, her opponent will win the race. The issues are the same, however, particularly as they concern Senator Clinton’s support of the war. Hillary Clinton, however, has the dual advantage of being both a Clinton and a woman in her favor. Somehow, the general electorate has yet to pick up on both Clintons’ conservative natures, but they eventually will. Just as voters in Connecticut have begun to understand Joe Lieberman’s true colors, so will they come to understand that Bill and Hillary Clinton were cut largely from the same cloth.
In 1984, at the Democratic National Convention, then New York Governor Mario Cuomo made it clear that liberal was not a dirty word and that the greatest part of American accomplishment came at the hands of liberals. President Bill Clinton and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joseph Lieberman have slowly been attempting to take that liberal mantle away from the Democratic Party.
And that is why we are the Recovering Liberals. We must recover from their distorted view of what the Democratic Party should be.
In order to take back our country again, we must become Democrats again, and that means that we must become liberals again.