This September marks the first time in a decade that voters in New York's 21st Congressional District will have a choice in a Democratic primary for U.S. representative. Retired Army Lt. Col. Thomas J. Raleigh announced July 20 that he would enter the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael R. McNulty.
McNulty, who has been in office since 1988, has been reelected eight times by wide margins and has said, "It is good to have a primary from time to time." Now, he faces competition on issues such as the war in Iraq.
The similarities are stunning. Both Lamont and Raleigh are running grassroots campaigns on solid principle against heavily entrenched incumbents. Those incumbents both voted for the PATRIOT Act in 2001 and for the Iraq War resolution in 2002, and as such both races are focusing on the quagmire in that country. This blogger fully expects to find more similarities and intends to become active in Raleigh's campaign.
Now that's not to say that Tom Raleigh is Ned Lamont and Mike McNulty is Joe Lieberman, but it's clear that same spirit resides in each race. And as a national publication points to a schism in the Democratic Party (as well as to this website and it's founder, specifically) it was my own local, little liberal newspaper that proved that this schism is spreading.
Even if it's at the slow rate of 60 miles a week. That's about how far away my voting district is from the Connecticut border. When this election cycle began, I was thinking a lot about Republican vs. Democrat, and taking back the House and Senate to combat the neocons. Now, with all the spotlights on the Lamont race about to go out after the election, I feel the national midterm scene is taking on an important new strategy. And that is the realization that if we don't take back Congress, then what we should always be doing is working as hard as we can at every level to make sure that the Democrats who are there really are Democrats.
Think about it. What if every geographically twisted Congressional district in the nation represented by a Democrat had a Ned Lamont or a Tom Raleigh willing to challenge the establishment? What this thing has taught me is that having a Democrat with no real guts or principles representing me is just as bad as having a Republican in his place. That is, if you don't say something is wrong, you're saying it's right.
Much has been said about Lieberman's politics and Lamont's politics against his. No matter what the specifics, the general overview can be applied anywhere in America. The solid principle is that 18 years in Congress in too much power; that every Democrat who voted against our civil liberties or to give up extra power to the President should be held accountable at the local level, the old fashioned way. What this whole thing is about isn't just Lieberman's policies or Connecticut politics. It's about getting your views represented and about local politics across the country.
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