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Why I Support Ned Lamont

nedandjesse.jpg

(AP Photo/Bob Childs)

There has been an awful lot of reporting in the Connecticut Senate race about all the reasons why people support or oppose Joe Lieberman.  But something that hasn’t been reported widely enough is why people — from all over the state and the nation, in some cases — are supporting Ned Lamont

I’m not certain why this aspect of the story has been so underreported.  You would think after yesterday’s QPoll numbers that some enterprising journalists would start tapping into that part of the story:  why are Connecticut voters so energized on behalf of Lamont?  Because, honestly, just voting against someone isn’t enough to get people to the polls on primary day. 

In politics, it has always been about giving people a reason to get off their couches, turn off Oprah or Dr. Phil or their soap or SpikeTV’s Star Trek Marathon, or what have you, on the teevee, and head over to their precinct and cast a vote for someone.  And I am told by a number of sources in Connecticut — including a lot of our Nutmeg readership — that there are a whole lot of people in Connecticut who are very energized and showing up to talk to Ned Lamont.  All over the state.

This was, unfortunately, the part of the campaigning where John Kerry failed to close the deal, the reasons to vote for him and not just against George Bush — for which I will never, ever forgive Bob Shrum, by the way. 

But in Connecticut, come August 8th, we could have a completely different story — people turning out to the polls to vote FOR Ned Lamont — a challenger to an 18 year incumbant Senator, who started a campaign from scratch and could, possibly, take it all the way through to a win in the primary and beyond.

That support comes from somewhere — and it is decidedly not just disgust or displeasure with Joe Lieberman, although, to be completely honest, Lieberman hasn’t been helping himself much the last six years or more, now has he?  Jeff Greenfield did a fairly comprehensive listing on CNN yesterday of the problems with Lieberman, which include support for the mess in Iraq and also:

But it’s important to remember that Lieberman’s problems with Democratic constituencies go back further. He has often taken positions at odds with his party’s base. For instance, he supported vouchers for public school students so they might attend other schools — a position public school teachers’ unions strongly oppose. This year, both Connecticut teachers’ unions have endorsed Lamont.

In the past, Lieberman has questioned the value of affirmative action. Ten years ago, he said: "Affirmative action is dividing us in ways its creators could never have intended."

It’s not exactly a coincidence that prominent African-American politician Rep. Maxine Waters of California and the Rev. Al Sharpton are supporting Lamont.

And last year, he supported federal intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman at the center of a long legal battle over whether she could be taken off life support, thus aligning himself on that issue with religious conservatives. Schiavo’s husband is campaigning for Lamont, and those Democrats generally unhappy with the power of the "Religious Right" gained another reason to oppose the incumbent.

Then there’s lingering unhappiness over Lieberman’s decision in 2000 to run both for vice president and his Senate seat. Had Al Gore won the White House, Lieberman’s replacement would have been chosen by a Republican governor — costing Democrats control of the Senate and fueling the idea among some that Lieberman cared more about his career than his party.

And his promise to run as an independent if he loses the primary might complicate Democratic efforts to take two or three House seats in his state from vulnerable GOP incumbents.

But back to Ned Lamont.  One of the things that intrigued me most about him was that he volunteered to teach in an inner city high school — something he clearly did not need to do financially or otherwise — simply because it was the right thing to do.  So often we all know what we ought to be doing.  But Ned Lamont just found a way to do it.

My mother was a teacher for over thirty years in the public school system.  I watched the issues that she dealt with in her elementary school grow and become more and more difficult through the years:  belligerant parents who refused to take responsibility for problems in school or have their child do so either; being able to teach less and less of her curriculum and more and more of how to take tests and not much else; discipline issues that never fully were addressed, even from kids as young as 6; and so many other things.  That Ned Lamont was willing to wade into those thorny issues at the high school level is admirable — and shows an enormous amount of character and purpose, in my book.

Far too often, teachers are underpaid, overworked, and unthanked.  And they do a job that is so essential to the well-being of this nation that it appalls me to even think about the idiocy of this approach to education.  Of course, that doesn’t apply to kids whose parents can afford to send them to a nice prep school or private academy, which is most members of Congress frankly, so not a problem if you can’t see it, right?  Wrong. 

Having dealt up close and personal with juvenile delinquency issues and seeing the impact that a caring teacher and/or family member can have on a child by simply believing that they can be someone better, that they can do something better…well, it matters to each and every one of us how the poorest of our children are educated. 

That Ned Lamont would step up to the plate and work on that issue first hand by being a volunteer teacher in a tough neighborhood in Bridgeport, CT?  That is what I call character.  And it is one reason — of many — that I support Ned Lamont.

But it’s not just me.  It’s a lot of folks from CT and elsewhere, who see in Ned Lamont something that you don’t see too often in politics:  a guy who genuinely cares about the people he hopes to serve, and who listens to them.  Just look at the photo above of Ned and Rev. Jesse Jackson.  That is a real grin, a true laugh, and a look of attention on his face.  Not some smarmy photo op fake plastered smile, but an honest grin and that look that a belly laugh could erupt at whatever joke Rev. Jackson might be telling.  It is a genuine moment, and thank goodness that some people can still have them in politics today.

I’ll let some of the other readers here tell you, in their own words, why they support the Lamont campaign.  First up, scarecrow

Why Lamont? Big and little things. He’s genuine; he gets it, he listens; he cares that what we’re doing is hurting people, he’s willing to say that’s not okay and not hedge it; he’s not a jingoist and he’s not afraid to say when we screwed up and need to change; he sees the connection between bad decisions there and the unability to make good decisions here.

And there’s the intangible stuff that we can’t define but the folks here, from all over, look at this guy and see, Jeez, he’s real, and we’re ready to work our butts off.

Next, SharonW, who lives in CT:

I support Ned Lamont because as a CT voter I had been waiting for years for someone to challenge Lieberman, but nobody ever did. He was always far too conservative for my tastes. So about two weeks after Lamont announced his candidacy, I met with him and right off the bat, I liked him. I liked the people working with him, too.

That like became love during the debates. Damn, that’s the first time in ages I’ve heard a candidate say everything I believed in and valued without worrying about how it was going to play with moderates and independents. He simply spoke his mind without a freakin’ filter. I loved him at that point.

He is a breath of fresh air and he comes off as genuine as Mr. Smith and I hope he goes to Washington.

And also Millineryman:

I am supporting Ned Lamont because he represents to me what a true Democrat is about. He’s about raising people up when they need a hand. He stands for equal rights and inclusion. He stands on the side of the law and will uphold the Constitution, not shred it. He makes me believe in the power of politics as force to help people that need it, not as a means to his own end. He’s man of principles and action, not a cowardly wimp who hides from a paper mache float.

And Anne:

I support Ned Lamont because I believe he cares. Anyone who volunteers to teach and mentor kids who might not otherwise have that kind of attention is someone who knows the future is in our kids. And I think when he works with these kids, and sees the hard road ahead for them, which, instead of being paved smoother, is being riddled with potholes due to the misplaced priorities of the current administration, it inspires him to action.

Between these kids and his own kids, he sees the tremendous promise they represent, and contrasts it with the insanity of continuing to send our young men and women into war zones on the basis of policies that have been failing almost from Day One.

Joe Lieberman has been a tire with a slow leak that has finally fallen flat, hampering the forward movement of the vehicle he is attached to. He is a flat tire that can no longer be patched up and put back on the car. I think Ned finds it enormously frustrating to see a clear path and a clear direction and realize that with the flat tire that is Joe Lieberman, CT would never get where it needs to go, and neither would the country.

Ned is a progressive liberal in the best sense of that term, and in keeping with where we are today. He is a man of action, a man who knows how to listen to people, a man who is not going to abandon Connecticut for months and years on end while he basks in an over-rated notion of his own glory.

I believe that Ned Lamont is for a lot of things, much more than he is just against Joe Lieberman.

He represents hope, which I think many of us are thirsty for.

Another Connecticut resident, DAB:

I registered in CT as a Dem for the 1972 Presidential election – have been a devoted and dedicated liberal to moderate party member ever since.

Lieberman left the core principles of the Dem party behind years and years ago and Dems in CT have been waiting for someone to challenge him since at least 2000 (selecting him for VP candidate was a mis-guided political calculation).

Lamont represents hope for Democrats of CT. When he is elected to the Senate in November, he will stand up and fight for the policies and principles of the Dem party: economic opportunity for all Americans, cooperation with the international community over issues like terrorism, poverty, aids and the environment. He’ll be an advocate for public education, science (stem cell research), civil rights, support of American’s constitutional rights – the list goes on.

I can’t tell you how proud I am to have Lamont running for Senator in my state.

That’s quite a number of reasons, isn’t it?  But don’t take our word for it, Ned Lamont has a great website, chock full of information about his positions on a number of issues.  See for yourself why Ned Lamont is worth supporting. 

Whatever happens in this primary on August 8th, I can tell you one bit of impact that it has already had:  politicians all over the country have realized that they ignore their constituents at their own peril.  Whether the winner is Joe Lieberman or Ned Lamont, this will serve as a cautionary tale that no matter how high you think you have flown, you can fall just as far and a whole lot more quickly.  From Evil Parallel Universe:

At the end of the day, if the people of CT vote for Lamont, then Lieberman should just step down – sure in the knowledge that his time, if it ever was, has passed.

The real issue is that Lieberman seems to think that he is indespensible – that some how the world will stop spinning if he is NOT in the senate, or the country will be in worse shape. Which can only mean one thing – its not about public policy, the future direction of this country, it’s about Joe’s self proclaimed right to be a senator from CT for life regardless of how he actually votes on issues. Last time I looked, there were no life peerages in this country – maybe I should recheck that though. Too long ago Joe forgot that he worked for the people of CT, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. And, given the inane policies of TEAM LOSER and its failures, policies and failures that Lieberman fully supported and continues to support, I for one would vote for anyone to replace them and HIM, let alone a qualified candidate like Lamont.

You asked, rhetorically I assume, if it was worth destroying(interesting phrasing)* someone to win an election? The answer is, yes, if the stakes are high enough. But neither anyone here, nor Lamont, created Joe’s problems with the electorate, and, in fact, aren’t capable of “destroying” anyone – all we can do is try to get him unelected. Is Joe really that fragile? If so, he has no right to be an elected official. Is his identity so tied up with the trappings of the office that he really will be “destroyed” if he loses? If so, then that is prima facie evidence that he needs to go.

But, if he is “destroyed” he did it to himself. HIS choices – NOT ours; HIS choice to follow TEAM LOSER, not his constituents (or ours for that matter), and his choice to view his senate seat as a right, rather than a privilege the people of CT granted him.

And I say, it’s about time that all of our elected officials remembered that they work for us. 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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