Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lieberman, The Independent

Over on the left, the discussion about Lieberman – when it is not outrageously wrongheaded – has taken its usual turn: The discussion has turned quickly from an attempt to answer the question “What are Lieberman’s reasons for opposing the recent grand plans of progressives in his party?” to the more easily answered question “What are Lieberman’s motives in doing so?” Answer from those on the left who prefer venting to thinking: The senator is entirely ego driven and shameless in his opposition because he is still smarting from a primary loss to Ned Lamont.

Progressives on the left, , hatchets at the ready, are predicting two things: 1) that Lieberman has now entered his end times, and 2) if the senator runs again, he can only do successfully on a Republican ticket, which is unlikely.

The shifting stream of history is the great unknown here. Progressive theorists, when they are not assuming their plans for the future will usher in a new utopia, are assuming that all else will remain the same. Today will not give rise to a very different tomorrow.

If the Democrats are successful, what will the future bring by the time Lieberman either runs for office once again or declines to do so? Given the nature of the progressive plan for universal health care – which may encourage a collapse of the insurance industry in what used to be known as the insurance capitol of the world, as well as the supportive command economy upon which the success of the plan depends – the future, in the eyes of conservatives and libertarians, must seem fraught with peril.

The really big unknown is the reaction of independents to this as yet misty future.

Why hasn’t the polling community done more careful studies of independents? Who are they? To say independents are unaffiliated is to say nothing at all.

On a trip to Ireland, the late and much missed Bill Buckley got into a discussion at a pub, and the talk soon drifted off to questions of religion. One of his interlocutors mentioned a prominent atheist, which shocked Buckley.

“Do you mean to say there are atheists in Ireland?

“Well yes,” said the gentleman, “But here in Ireland, you must understand that there are two kinds of atheists: Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists.”

Can the same be said of the independents? Are there two kinds: Republican independents and Democratic independents?

If the answer to that question is “yes,” the future may not bode well for Connecticut Democrats. Everyone assumes that the breakdown will be the same as in the general population so that among independents we may have disenchanted Republicans, genuine independents, and disenchanted Democrats. And just as in the general population Republicans far out number Democrats, so among independents disenchanted Democrats may far outnumber disenchanted Republicans.

We need a study exploring the nature of voting independents in Connecticut and elsewhere. Is the independent a man in revolt? Is he simply listless and tired? Is he disenchanted with the herd mentality of the committed party man? Is he a modern version of the anarchistic Henry David Thoreau shouting out from the rooftop of his cabin in the woods: "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all…”

Perhaps there is such a study and it has not got the publicity it deserves. Elections in Connecticut for sometime have been turning upon this pivot, just as the fate of the progressive’s attempt to brush every tear aside with a cumbersome universal health care initiative depends upon Lieberman the independent. And who is he: an independent, or a Democrat in exile?

We should be able to answer both questions with a minimum of venom.

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