I spent a good portion of my life working to eliminate or replace one-party systems in the world. So it is with mixed emotions I watch the Democratic Party continue to lop off its nose in order to spite its face.
Is it too soon to predict the result will be a one-party system in the US? Not if you are following political events in Connecticut.
The most current evidence of the Democratic Party's self-destruction is the Democratic primary race for the US Senate in Connecticut, pitting 3-term veteran Joseph Lieberman against antiwar candidate Ned Lamont.
According to local polls, Lamont will win the primary forcing into play Lieberman's defensive move of forming his own party to be on the ballot one way or another in November. The token Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger, will garner 8% - 15% in the general election, and for a variety of reasons, may even withdraw; Lieberman is expected to win in a three-way (and more-so in a two-way) vote in November, thus depriving the Democrats of an important seat in the Senate.
Lieberman will win because Republicans will vote for this Democrat in droves. Republicans see Lieberman as a statesman, whether or not one agrees with all of his votes. Democrats are turning their backs on one of their few stars. History may elevate Lieberman to the status of "Great American", an elected official who has been remarkably true to his principles and who has a track record of sponsoring, advocating and voting for sensible, responsible US policies on issues that really matter, like national security.
Lamont, on the other hand, is an American made rich via inheritance who, like Sen. Edward Kennedy and some other leaders of the Democratic Party, has turned his back on some of the very institutions that helped make his father (and him) rich in the first place, such as low taxes and a strong defense policy. While his backers claim he is a successful businessman, he will not release his tax returns so there is no way to back up this claim. Meanwhile, Lamont has embarked on futile effort to make a single-issue campaign into a multi-issue campaign by paying lip service to a panoply of liberal causes. This delights his immediate followers and the liberal fringe, but dismays some political realists -- including Bill Clinton who is supporting Lieberman.
When Lieberman first ran for the US Senate against incumbent Republican Lowell Weicker, Republicans remembered Weicker's over-zealous, grandstanding treatment of Richard Nixon as a member of the Watergate Committee in 1974. Many Republicans, therefore, voted for Lieberman, the Democrat, in 1988, in another one-issue election.
Ironically, two years later, Weicker ran as an independent, as Lieberman is now likely to do, for governor of Connecticut, and won. Weicker campaigned against introducing an income tax in the state. A nanosecond after being elected governor, however, he reneged and instituted a state income tax which has since helped make Connecticut one of the most expensive states in the country in which to live and earning the distrust of all Connecticut voters.
Guess who is supporting Ned Lamont today? Lowell Weicker. This time his considerable energies and influence are being used to wreck the Democratic Party instead of the Republican Party.
Mr. Shriver is Provost Emeritus, European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin. He served in President Ford's Defense Department and was Assistant Secretary of Treasury under President Reagan. He has been a resident of Connecticut since 1986. He blogs at SharpandSound.com.