Is Joseph I Lieberman a Democrat? Washington State Democrats often debate what it takes to be a Democrat. Within the party faithful that serve as members of legislative district organizations, the debate frequently is about whether elected Democrats and candidates need to pass some litmus test regarding supporting the party’s platform.
This particularly becomes a hot issue when candidates and incumbents are up for election. The compromise has usually been to ask candidates to fill out lengthy questionnaires and ask if there are parts of the platform they don’t support. In addition people are asked how long they have been a member of the Democratic Party and if they have been a member of some other party in the last 5 years. In recent years these questionnaires have been posted on line.
This degree of stringent questioning or loyalty test varies depending on how strong and large a legislative district organization is. The district I belong to is strongly democratic and so the debate continues every election year.
The controversy right now in Connecticut is over whether Lieberman should really be able to call himself a Democrat. Yesterday in fact some registered Democrats went to Lieberman’s voter registration board and ask that his Democratic registration be pulled since he is now running as a Independent. The person at the Election Department said this was the first time she had ever had this request.
Tensions are running high. Senator Kerry on Sunday “blasted” Lieberman over his decision to stay in the Senate race in Connecticut. He said Lieberman is “making a Republican case” for the war in Iraq and is becoming an echo chamber for Republicans like Cheney.
Lieberman responded “I am a Democrat.” and accused Kerry of positioning himself for another run for President. Lieberman noted that he voted with the Democratic positions in Congress 90% of the time.
To me what is troubling is that the Republicans are using Lieberman to push their agenda and using his situation to divert attention from Bush’s and the Republican responsibility for invading Iraq.
Frankly Democrats should be angry because this is the same public shifting of media attention and responsibility for Bush’s invasion of Iraq and his failures in Iraq to a squabble among Democrats that Senator Maria Cantwell felt in Washington State.
Democrats need to keep focused on the fact that Iraq is mainly a Republican issue and it is Bush, not Cantwell or Lieberman or any other Democrat that keeps us in Iraq. A few Democrats don’t have the power to change the President’s mind or outvote the Republican majority in Congress to turn things around.
Republicans love the fact that the media attention is focused on the Democrats disagreeing on Iraq because it takes the attention and heat off Bush and the Republicans that are responsible.
Democrats need to work to regain control of the House and Senate from Republicans, rather than fighting among themselves. They are in danger of losing focus as to who represents the real problem – Republicans that blindly supported Bush.