The Republican Party is extremely adept at framing issues, labeling Democrats, and boxing them into a corner. And they're attempting to do it once again by painting anti-war Senate hopeful, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, as a fringe candidate who represents the radical left wing of his party. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Lamont's made his strong opposition to the Iraq war the cornerstone of his campaign, effectively mobilizing the grassroots/'netroots movement to beat incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman in the state's recent primary. Lamont's not alone. The latest polls show that two-thirds of Americans are now firmly against the war and believe it was/is a mistake. What's more, a NY Times/CBS News poll last week found that 51% saw no link between the Iraq war and the broader war on terror, an increase of 10% points since June.
If you listen to the Repugs, Lamont doesn't represent mainstream America, and they're trying to scare Republican and Independent voters into thinking that a vote for Lamont-like liberals will not only spoil the fun in Iraq, but it will be an invitation to terrorists to attack us here at home. But all of this rhetoric presents an enormous opportunity for Democrats, if they have the guts to follow through.
The fact is, Lamont does represent mainstream America, which is solidly against the war. As the polls prove, it's Bush and the GOP that's out of touch with a majority of Americans, not Lamont. With this position, he's not only very successfully drawn a distinction between himself and Lieberman, but with pro-war Republicans overall. If they're smart, Democrats will do precisely the same, and boldly. Democrats must not fall into the Rovian trap and fear being branded "cut and run" lefties. Polls indicate that the November midterms are going to be a referendum on the Iraq war, President Bush, and the GOP-led Congress. The Democrats' message to voters should be, "we're not Republicans. We're not for this wasteful, unjust war. We're like you. We want to end this war and bring the troops home." They should not be afraid to stand up and shout this message at every opportunity. It's what won Lamont his state's primary, and it's what can be the Dems' ticket to victory this Fall. The question is, will Democrats be smart of enough, and ballsy enough, to capitalize on the opportunity that Lamont has given them?