Democrats continue their suicidal ways
Even though their ship is listing as it struggles to port, Democrats have continued to demonstrate an uncanny ability to disregard reality and destroy themselves electorally. As the water rises, they are too busy fighting over the deck chairs to launch the lifeboats.
Most Democrats are concerned about the slaughter of moderates in Republican primaries and conventions,
but Republicans are not alone in running moderates out of office. A cursory glance across the electoral landscape reveals scores of political battles in which Democrats are spending millions to destroy other Democrats.
They just finished burying Senator Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania primary because he wasn’t the right hue of blue. Howard Dean, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, is backing a new candidate against Rep. Jane Harman in California because she is too centrist.
In Arkansas, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter just forced Senator Blanche Lincoln into a run-off election because she was too moderate. Of course, he doesn’t say that in conservative Arkansas but that is the reason he is being supported by the more liberal left.
(Having known a number of lieutenant governors, I can say that many of them do nothing but prowl the political landscape, willing to devour their own kind to gain a public office. Lieutenant Governor Halter is a case in point. )
Then there is the perennial Democratic mess in State of Minnesota. Ineptness among Democrats has become so chronic that Republicans can bank on winning the governorship without a campaign. Republicans have held the governorship for 16 years in this Democratic state because Democrats spend all of their energy and money bleeding each other in primary elections. It seems that every Democrat in Minnesota thinks that he/she is qualified to be governor. They’re at it again in 2010.
Looking back in North Dakota electoral history, true-blue Democrats are reaping what they sowed when they spurned the nomination of John Hoeven as their candidate for governor. When John was trying to find himself politically, he let the Democrats know that he was persuadable.
But true-believing Democrats resisted his nomination and have since lived with the consequences of their ineptness. For that bad judgment, they lost the governorship. And instead of seeing another Republican go to the U. S. Senate in 2010, they would have been sending another Democrat to fill Senator Byron Dorgan’s seat.
Suicide in the Democratic Party is nothing new. The composition of the Democratic Party is more diverse than the Republican Party, and this diversity results in greater fragmentation and disorganization. Before Democrats can challenge Republicans they must first negotiate among themselves. Their behavior in current primaries and conventions indicate they are more willing to go down with the ship than share the helm.
Unity would have had its rewards in this tough political year when Republicans are purging their moderate incumbents.
Omdahl is a UND professor emeritus in political science and a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota.
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