Over the last few days there has been lots of talk about Joe Lieberman. If you’re smart you haven’t paid attention. I’m not that smart but clearly, he’s not that smart either. The question really is not about whether Joe Lieberman will be a candidate but whether he is a democrat and further, what is a democrat?
I used to have the answer to that question but I simply don’t anymore. A democrat used to be someone who cared about the “less fortunate”. They were willing to spend money and use resources to provide opportunities to the people who had not had them. They believed in justice for all--not just the lip service part. They were Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindu’s and Buddhists. They were also laborers, teachers, blue collar workers, women, minorities, the educated and the soon to be educated. They were young and old and black, brown, yellow and white. You could find them at a WalMart like store, on the upper west side of Manhattan or shopping at a local grocer. They were in government, public service, the military, corporations, and small businesses. You get the point? They were everywhere and they knew why they were democrats and what they stood for. It is no longer the case. The lines have been skewed and the issues have been muddled.
A few years ago I worked for a guy that was running for Democratic Committee Chair. The guy was a schmuck and additionally, he never paid me. But that’s beside the point—well maybe it’s not because I have heard that republicans pay very well. Anyway, (which is one of my favorite words) Tim Roemer ran against Howard Dean. But Tim Roemer is a Catholic and not in favor of abortion. (Being pro-choice is part of the party platform.) He maintained that he didn’t want to change the platform but that there had to be room for someone with his views in the party leadership. He made a good case. The democratic party can’t be a single issue party and we need to broaden our outreach if we are going to survive. My job was to put him in touch with women leaders and (I suggested) listen to what they had to say, and figure out how to have a conversation with women of opposing views. He did OK except he didn’t really listen, he lost and he didn’t pay me.
So the question is; is there a difference between an issue like abortion and the war in Iraq? Can someone be a democrat and still support the war? If someone supports the President’s right wing policies, should they still be given the opportunity to represent the people of a state totally opposed to those policies. Does a senator or representative have to reflect the views of their constituency? How much of the time? I don't have the answers to these questions. But I'm a really good poser and supposer of questions.
But back to Sen. Lieberman. There are things I know about Joe Lieberman. I'm not sure they are important when it comes to making a decision about his qualifications for the Senate but here goes. He is an entertainer—yes he sings. He's not great but it does take courage to have a mediocre voice and still belt out a tune. He is a devout Jew. He won't campaign or work on the Sabbath. This is a good thing because a congressional or political staff needs a definate day to rest. He must be kind because he let, or encouraged, his first wife (the latest wife was there too) to tag along and be treated like a VIP during his campaign for VP. Yes it was a bit disconcerting and oft times crowded. His children seem to respect him and animals probably flock to his side. And finally, he supports the war in Iraq, not just the troops but the war. People say that he has always been consistent in his position and that’s a good thing. But is the inability to reflect and see that maybe there needs to be an alternative position a good thing, or does it indicate an inability to be flexible when you think you may be wrong or you can never admit you made a mistake, or worse, he actually believes we should be there. His supporters say, you know what you get with Joe. And I guess the people of Conn. will have to decide if they want it? And if he is their democrat. I just wish I knew what a democrat is today. We're just sayin...