Sunday, August 20, 2006

Party of one

Party unity has been a trademark of the modern GOP, as embodied by Newt Gingrich's efforts in the Contract with America, an effort long lost amidst the rampant K Street corruption racket headed up by Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff's circle of friends. It was a unity that demanded party loyalty and a singular message. It has been a spectacularly successful strategy on the political front, in spite of an obvious inability, distinterest or, as some would argue, even hostility toward proper governance by Republicans.

Which is why the sight of the GOP deserting their own candidate in favour of backing Joe Lieberman in the upcoming Connecticut Senate race is rather ... curious. It is not at all surprising, but it is curious. And I cannot help but wonder if we're seeing a breakdown of party discipline in the face of overwhelming public disatisfaction with Republican rule. Given that Alan Schlesinger appears to have almost no chance of winning, Republicans were not disposed toward challenging Lieberman, as he had proved himself a reliable a supporter of the Iraq fiasco. But Schlesinger is not at all happy that his own party is poised to fully back Lieberman and abandon him to the spectacle of ignominy that will come from the GOP's support of the "independent" Lieberman.

I have to give Schlesinger credit here. He seems to grasp exactly what is going on:
Washington and the media have attempted to hijack this election and turn it into a referendum on the future of the national Democratic Party. Their interest is not in electing a Republican in Connecticut, or anyone in particular in Connecticut.
Well, that last statement is not quite correct. The GOP want Lieberman, a reliable toady who still has a very good chance of winning in November. To bad for Schlesinger that he is the first victim of a Republican party that is sweating their bad poll numbers and will now choose to back a "centrist" Democrat over their own candidate. This is probably an ill-considered move on the part of the GOP because it will send a rather poor message to other struggling Republican no-hopers: if you're not going to win, we don't know you.

We've often heard that the Democrats might be in danger of breaking up into two factions, those "centrists" who are happy with the status quo and those who are actually Democrats (some would argue that the Dems already are busted up and that they just don't it). But this political blunder could convey some serious repercussions for the GOP, who cannot now been seen as a party of all for one and one for all. GOP fractionation is entirely conceivable now, something that would have unheard of until only recently.


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