Lamont’s Victory Signals the End of Triangulation?

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MoveOn’s Eli Pariser is in a mood to exult.

[Ned] Lamont’s victory…marks the beginning of the end for an old favorite of Washington insiders: the tactics of triangulation. Originally employed as a survival strategy by a Democratic president in the wake of 1994’s Republican revolution, the policy of seizing the political middle ground no longer makes sense in an era when any attempt at bipartisanship is understood as a sign of Democratic weakness and exploited accordingly.

Had triangulation worked, we’d be in a different moment. But for six long years, it hasn’t. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has seen the writing on the wall in recent weeks, criticizing the Bush team’s Iraq fiasco by publicly confronting Donald Rumsfeld, calling on him to resign and demanding that troop withdrawals from Iraq begin soon.

With triangulation passing, a new era of bolder, principle-driven politics can begin. Lamont’s success should be the opening salvo in a 90-day campaign to establish the clear-cut differences between Democrats and Republicans. Most independent voters, like Democrats, want change, but many of them aren’t sure yet whether Democratic candidates are capable of giving it to them. Now’s the chance to seize that mantle. …

If the Democratic Party can emulate Lamont’s principled progressivism, a durable national electoral majority and a government that embraces real people’s concerns awaits. Americans want change as badly as they did in 1994. They want an end to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. They want a shift in national priorities that makes government their ally in dealing with soaring energy prices and increasingly inadequate and unaffordable health insurance. And, yes, they want their officeholders and candidates to hold the president accountable for his failures.

Well, it’s a bit of a leap from Lieberman’s primary defeat to “a durable electoral majority and a government that embraces real people’s concerns” (and the evidence for Hillary’s conversion has to go beyond her kicking Rummy when he’s already down, by which she risks nothing, and demanding troop withdrawals, which polls now show to be a mainstream position). But there’s no doubt the nation wants change.

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