In a brilliant post over at Dailykos
, mcjoan provides what should have been the obvious solution to all those various Democratic incumbents and establishment favorites who have recently become threatened by the progressive movement in Democratic primaries. Instead of demonizing and spewing bile toward the progressive movement, you will find victory easier to come by and unity easier to achieve if you do what all good politicians do: listen to your constituents. During her primary fight with Marcy Winograd, Jane Harman braved the lion's den by posting a diary and listening to readers on Dailykos during her primary, thereby showing her opponents and the progressive movement respect. By way of stark contrast, Joe Lieberman his supporters have treated their opponents with nothing but disdain, insults, and threats
Seriously, could you even imagine Joe Lieberman posting on a major blog, especially after everything he and his supporters have said about the blogosphere and the netroots? There is no respect there at all. Further, while Joe Lieberman turns even further to the right and attack opponents of the Vietnam war
, Jane Harman steps up and becomes an outspoken critic of Bush on intelligence matters
. As mcjoan writes:A good Democrat, Senator Lieberman, is loyal to his party and to his ideals. This can be achieved when the Democratic representative respects dissenting views and does not operate from a sense of entitlement.
A good Democratic representative respects the will of his constituents even when he disagrees with their views. He listens and responds. He explains his views and respects those that oppose him. He does not accuse his constituency of undermining the security of the nation because they disagree with him and the Republican president.
A good Democratic Senator does not accuse his fellow Senators of imperiling the nation's security by opposing the president. There are many examples of good Democrats who disagree with the Democratic base on the Iraq Debacle. One of them is your Congressional colleague Jane Harman, once ironically known as the "Joe Lieberman of the House." It is clear now that that labeling Harman as that is false and unfair. Would that we could have called you the Jane Harman of the Senate. It was not to be.
There is, I believe, an important reason for this difference in approach. Joe Lieberman and his most outspoken supporters in the punditry rose to power within the Democratic Party and the media by distancing themselves from progressive Democrats through repeated Sista Souljah moves, by endlessly playing the electability card (despite repeatedly losing elections), and by constantly closing Daou's triangle by adopting the stance the media loves above all else: the "I Yousta be a liberal" stance where a Democrat explains why Republican complaints about Democrats are all true. What Lieberman and his supporters cannot stomach is that these same attacks against progressives that brought him to media stardom now serve as the core rationale for why the people-powered progressive movement wants to bring him down (I mean, who would have ever thought that being demonized causes you to dislike the person doing the demonizing?). They also can't seem to stomach that you have to earn power among voters by listening to them, having responsive constituent services, and by actually representing their hopes and dreams. The reason Lieberman's supporters are demonizing rather than listening is because manipulating the corporate media through demonizing members of their own party is the only path toward power that they understand.
It is a relief to me that Jane Harman showed she was not that type of politician. Whatever conservative, liberal or otherwise positions she may hold, she is not willing to demonize and sell-out her own constituency in the corporate media in order to further her own power within the national political discourse or Washington D.C. Other establishment types threatened by the progressive movement should follow Harman's path. The days when you gain power by adopting the "I yousta be a liberal" stance are over. It is time to listen to your opponents and your constituents and show them that you respect them. Do not facilitate Republican narratives about them. Do not demonize them. Take Harman's path (and not just by posting a diary on Dailykos), and not only will you prevent most primary challenges from ever becoming as serious as Ned Lamont's has become in Connecticut, but you will also have a more unified Democratic Party and an activist base that is much more willing to help you out when the going gets tough against Republicans in general elections. Take my advice: if you feel threatened by the progressive movement, then open up talks with them
. If you continue to take an aristocratic, demonizing approach, then expect a lot more campaigns like the Connecticut Senate primary in the future, along with a more divided Democratic Party, and a less energetic activist base.
I leave the choice up to the establishment.