The conventional wisdom for tonight's Connecticut primary seems to be that a Joe Leiberman loss will yank the Democratic Party so far left as to make other Democratic candidates unelectable this fall. The logic is laughable and similar to what I heard from Republican leaders in 1994.
That was the election year when the most conservative wing of the GOP took over the party and swept into power in the US Congress. None would have predicted that outcome just two years earlier.
George Bush's loss to Bill Clinton in 1992 had put Republican operatives and strategists in a panic. They feared that Bush had been beaten like a drum because radical conservatives like Pat Buchanan, Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Robertson had hijacked the GOP Convention. So while Bill Clinton spent the next two years moving left, the Republican National Committee desperately sought moderate candidates that would talk, walk and vote like, say, Joe Lieberman. The goal was to blur all differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Because of that logic, I spent most of 1994 fighting Republican bureaucrats on the local, state and federal level who did everything in their power to elect my very moderate opponent in the GOP primary. A week before the primary, the Republican Congressional Committee campaign director let me know that I might as well give up. 1994 would be the year of the Moderate.
Within a few months of that conversation, scores of right-wing, knuckle-dragging, spear-carrying conservative barbarians like myself ran through our moderate Democratic opponents like Barry Bonds through a bottle of roids. It was ugly. Darting to the base was the ticket to victory for the Party of Reagan.
Fast forward twelve years and now we find many making the same misguided arguments, except this time they are giving their stupid advice to Democrats generally and Connecticut voters specifically.
Ned Lamont may be a pencil-necked geek, as Imus claims, but he is the type of candidate that will bring out the Democratic base in an off-year election. That is especially true this year because George W. Bush is even more unpopular than Clinton was when the GOP swept into
My advice to Democratic voters this year is "Go left, young man!"
There may be hell to pay in 2008, but for now the only thing that should matter to you is seizing control of Congress. Do that for the first time in a decade and then you can start worrying about swing voters in the suburbs.