What if the Democratic left rejects Lieberman and, in the Republican primaries, the religious right rejects McCain? Both are too centrist for their party’s base. Both can reach out to the disenchanted in both parties and maybe form a new movement of the centre: a Ross Perot-style movement without Perot’s lunacy.
A couple of months ago I fantasised about a dream ticket that could both unite the US and rejoin the battle against Islamist terror with new vigour and integrity. An independent McCain-Lieberman ticket for 2008? Stranger things have happened.
The McCain-Lieberman Party begins with a rejection of the Sunni-Shiite style of politics itself. It rejects those whose emotional attachment to their party is so all-consuming it becomes a form of tribalism, and who believe the only way to get American voters to respond is through aggression and stridency.
The flamers in the established parties tell themselves that their enemies are so vicious they have to be vicious too. . . .
The McCain-Lieberman Party counters with constant reminders that country comes before party, that in politics a little passion energizes but unmarshaled passion corrupts, and that more people want to vote for civility than for venom.
On policy grounds, too, the McCain-Lieberman Party is distinct. On foreign policy, it agrees with Tony Blair (who could not win a Democratic primary in the U.S. today): The civilized world faces an arc of Islamic extremism that was not caused by American overreaction, and that will only get stronger if America withdraws.
On fiscal policy, the McCain-Lieberman Party sees a Republican Party that will not raise taxes and a Democratic Party that will not cut benefits, and understands that to avoid bankruptcy the country must do both.
Both men are flawed. But their parties are more flawed.
: I haven’t blogged about the Lieberman defeat yet. I have two observations:
First, as Clay Shirky said on On the Media this week, blogs have become so much a part of politics it is now impossible to separate their influence from the process. Even Lamont and the bloggers tried to downplay their weight, not wanting to seem as if he had surfed into victory on the backs of blogs. But it is true that one cannot talk about the bloggers as if they are a constituency or a party or a group. One faction used blogs masterfully to bring in attention and money and to set the agenda of the race. Now everyone will do that, Shirky says.
Second, I fear for politics by attack dogs. The movement in Connecticut did not support Lamont, it opposed Lieberman. Lamont is a cipher, like Robert Redford in The Candidate. I have feared that the left has made its mark these last six years by being against and not being for. I am eager to hear the winning strategy in Iraq and the Middle East — and I do not count leaving alone as a strategy — and the winning strategy against terrorism and Islamic totalitarianism. Democrats attacking Democrats will not win elections. Democrats attacking Republicans will not rule the nation. It’s time for positive leadership.