As members of the generation that is fighting in Iraq, we find a lot to like about the Democratic nominee for Senate, Ned Lamont. We agree with Lamont’s opposition to the dire prospects for the United States in Iraq and to the equally dire situation in Washington, D.C., that led us there. Insofar as a vote Tuesday is a vote for or against the status quo, we would vote against the status quo and for Lamont.
Incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, in his 18 years in the Senate, has had many successes. He supports environmental reform and a woman’s right to choose, and he is well-respected as a statesman. His emphasis on bipartisanship is, moreover, not something we take lightly in this era of truly insane partisanship.
With that said, the bipartisanship of Sen. Lieberman is not what America needs. Not when that bipartisanship means voting for intervention in the Terri Schiavo tragedy, as Lieberman did. Not when it means voting to allow “aggressive interrogation” of suspected enemy combatants, as Lieberman did. Not when it means accepting the endorsement of a group of local clergymen who oppose, on biblical grounds, rights for gay citizens, as Lieberman did just last Thursday. Not when it means supporting an energy bill granting substantial tax cuts to energy companies, as Lieberman did.
And not when it means supporting the failed invasion and occupation of Iraq, as Lieberman did when Bush first decided to invade, and as he continues to do by suggesting that Iraq could work out, if only we’re a little more patient. We have seen no evidence that our continued presence in Iraq would improve the security situation there, particularly not under the leadership of President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Lieberman’s bipartisanship is not that of a visionary willing to go all out for his ideals. It is a concessionary sort of bipartisanship from a politician who gives in to the agenda of the ruling party without questioning its leaders when they err.
On the contrary, Lamont has proven that he will be an outspoken voice in challenging the administration. He supports gay marriage, a woman’s reproductive rights, and expanded health insurance for all Americans. Lamont would act as a check on the incompentant leadership of the Bush administration in a way that Lieberman has repeatedly — on Iraq, on faith-based initiatives, on civil liberties — demonstrated that he is unwilling or unable to do. Senators are powerful not just in casting their votes but in sparking discussion, and we believe Lamont would be more effective than Lieberman at pointing out ways our country can improve.
Legitimate arguments have been raised that the Democrats’ future is in the middle ground — but we believe the Democrats will not succeed unless they are able to articulate a clear and consistent alternative platform of their own. Lamont has articulated that alternative. Certainly, Lieberman’s moderate role enables him to build compromises that could benefit Democratic positions, but he has not done so, and the frequency with which he diverges from his party on core social and political issues leaves us wondering what exactly his version of the Democratic Party would stand behind. In the long run, the Democrats should not compromise their values in order to broaden their appeal; they need to articulate those values better in order to win over voters. Lamont, in his surprising campaign, showed he could do just that.
For these reasons, we support Ned Lamont for U.S. Senate.