By Don Winter
Mayor Bloomberg is a Republican. He is not a die-hard Republican who is loyal to the party first and to his beliefs second. Instead he is a man who has faith in his own beliefs and trusts in his own life experiences, without having to wait for the brain trust of the party apparatus to tell him what to do.
Can one say the same about most of the Democratic operatives? What must the word, “Democrat” mean to the Democratic Party? The word democracy from the lips of the Eastern Europeans or the new communists of the far-east meant the ”peoples democracy.”
As amusing as it may sound to those who are either too young or unfamiliar with the 1940’s, when the phrase “peoples democracy” originated, in reality there is an uncanny similarity between the “people’s democracy” and the Democratic Party organization in the US. Neither of them ever even attempted to practice democracy in the free and autonomous sense that would ensure the individual’s right to disagree with the views of the majority without being threatened with sanctions or exclusion.
Democracy in the view of the Democratic Party leadership remains this esoteric cryptic idea whose definition will always depend on the party leadership of the day. Disagreeing with the Republican Party is a virtue, but being in agreement with them and opposing your Democratic leadership is a sin and not even permissible, according to party rules. If any one within the Democratic Party comes to the conclusion that his or her views are closer to the views of the government than to their party leadership, that can also signify the end of their political career.
Joe Lieberman was a faithful Democrat all his life. Yet regardless of his loyalty to his party he realized that he has an overriding cause to disagree with his party’s leadership—his conscience. In our representative form of republic, Lieberman’s first fiduciary responsibility belongs to his constituency and not to his party leadership. He has not been elected to office to be a rubber stamp for the leadership of the Democratic Party, but to be the conduit of the wishes of his constituents, and if these wishes are not clear to him then to follow his own conscience and make the best choice that he can make that serves the best interest of his constituents. Did Senator Lieberman commit a grave mistake when deciding to back the position of the President of the United States of America?
For following his conscience, and endorsing the leadership of his commander in chief, to fight the enemy on their home turf, rather than having to fight them on our soil, now I ask you, were these the famous grievous mistakes by Senator Lieberman?
Well Mayor Bloomberg didn’t think so. Why not? Because Mayor Bloomberg just as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. Senator John McCain or any other Republicans are their own men with their own independent minds and, as most Republicans, have their own choices that are not dictated by party line. In the Republican Party there was always an openness of political diversity. During the Nixon era, it was Senator Baker from the Republican Senate leadership who openly opposed Nixon because he felt that what Nixon’s staff did merited an investigation.
It was certainly not the case with the Democrats during L.B.J’s “Gulf of Tonkin” troubles, or during the Clinton escapades. The Republicans are a diverse bunch with the Jerry Falwells or Pat Robertsons of the religious right, or the Pat Buchanans of the antagonist and anti-Zionist wing (we don’t say anti-Semitic anymore because anti-Zionist sounds much better than Jew Haters.) Then there are the Bloombergs with their independent ideas and genuine centrist convictions and pro-government interventionist ideas, or Rudy Giuliani with his open tolerance toward gays, and his pro-choice stance. Then there are also the John McCains, the traditional Republicans who have nothing new to propose except the Republican values that Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt stood for. They all have a place in the Republican Party, without the party wanting to eliminate their political existence.
It is not the same in the “people’s democracy.” Hillary Clinton, instantly rejected Joe Lieberman, and endorsed Lamont. Why? Because she is a classic party girl. It didn’t matter if she and Lieberman were of an identical opinion, and held the same position on Iraq. It didn’t matter that according to her she had inside information on Iraq and Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, something she already was very knowledgeable about from the time of her husband’s tenure. Now that she heard about the polls and the unfavorable public opinions, she, just as her husband in the past, changed directions depending on the direction of the wind. Joe was no longer part of her political equation. What took place afterward was an open political lynching. There was no one from the “people’s democracy” who stood up for the right of their fellow senator to exercise his right to vote his conscience instead of following the Party Line. Kerry, Edwards, Ted Kennedy, and even Chuck Schumer along with Harry Reid announced their full support for Lamont. I can only hope that the democratic long knives will not be able to mortally wound the political life of an excellent public servant.
Don Winter is co-publisher of the Resident.