Six years ago he came within a few chads of being America’s Vice
President but Connecticut’s Democrats have humbled Joe
Lieberman by rejecting the man who has been their Senator for eighteen years. By 52% to 48% the previously unknown Ned Lamont rode a rising tide of anti-war feeling to stop Lieberman from being the Democrat candidate for this November’s elections.
Lieberman has supported the Iraq war and this has enraged his party’s MooreOn tendency – more nutroots than netroots. Mr Lieberman becomes only the fourth incumbent senator to be rejected – by his own party – for re-election in nearly thirty years.
The felling of Lieberman does not augur well for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. The New York Senator also supported the Iraq war and the Dems’ netroots will feel emboldened in the race to choose the next party presidential candidate. The left-wing blogosphere has become adept at finding millions of dollars for anti-establishment insurgent campaigns. They may fund an anti-war candidate to be the party’s cheerleader for 2008.
US Republicans are looking nervously at November’s elections – fearing the unpopular Iraq war may see them lose the House and Senate but hawks like William Kristol see longer-term opportunities for political realignment in what has happened to Joe Lieberman:
"There is a political opportunity for the Bush administration if the Democrats reject Lieberman. If he’s then unable to win as an independent in November, he would make a fine secretary of defense for the remainder of the Bush years. If his independent candidacy succeeds, it will be a message to Bush that he should forge ahead toward victory in Iraq and elsewhere. Either way, the possibility exists for creating a broader and deeper governing party, with Lieberman Democrats welcomed into the Republican fold, just as Scoop Jackson Democrats became Reaganites in the 1980s. Is it too fanciful to speculate about a 2008 GOP ticket of McCain-Lieberman, or Giuliani-Lieberman, or Romney-Lieberman, or Allen-Lieberman, or Gingrich-Lieberman? Perhaps. But a reinvigorated governing and war-fighting Republican party is surely an achievable goal. And a necessary one."
Lessons for Britain? Three strike me:
- Anti-war feeling remains strong for the time-being and we learnt on Saturday that a group of anti-war activists want to unseat Labour ministers as a result.
- The war on terror divides the parties. There are preemptive hawks in both parties and then there are more cautious multilateralists. There is no sign of a realignment of UK politics along these lines yet – but we may start seeing one if there is a serious deterioration in the global security situation and parties divide on the appropriate response.
- Anti-establishment feeling is also growing and the internet can harness that feeling. The primary election for the Tory London mayoral candidate could be an opportunity for a net-based campaign to choose an anti-establishment candidate. I am going to start giving this some serious thought…