Though the loss by Joe Lieberman to Ned Lamont of the Connecticut Democrat primary has been commented on to death over the last few days by bigger names than I, I felt I had to throw in my two cents worth (though Townhall isn't paying me even the two cents to do so).
For those of us who lived through the period of political turmoil of the late 60s and early 70s, this whole era is oddly reminiscent of those times, right down to the sloganeering chants, though the phrases themselves have changed. "Hell, no, we won't go" has turned into "Bush lied, people died", "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh" into "Halliburton!", "Make love, not war" transformed into "No more blood for oil".
The last Democrat president who can be said to have represented mainstream America is Kennedy; though liberal for his time, were he a candidate today with the views he held then, he would probably be Republican, though of the McCain mold. Johnson made the mistake of trying to institute his Great Society program while expanding and micro-managing the Vietnam War, and that doomed his presidency. The war was unpopular on the Left, the social program on the Right. Johnson lost his constituency on both sides. He tried to be all things to all people; obviously an impossible task.
When that became evident, the McCarthy/McGovern wing of the Democrat party started its ascendancy. As time passed, groups that were originally on the fringe of the party were given greater voice within the party as to platform issues and the party worldview (or at least what was expressed as such). I think this was due to only one thing: party strategists, aware of the fact that they were wandering afield from traditional American values, and in order to maintain political viability as a national party, were forced into an escalating dependancy on a coalition of fringe elements cobbled together out of expediency.
Of course, the Achilles Heel to this approach is the accelerating cycle of development inherent within. Each of these fringe constituencies, aware of their own independant weakness, formed alliances with others to form blocs within the party that had the ability to wield power. As their influence grew, more mainstream elements left the party due to disagreement, leaving the new coalitions as an ever growing percentage of the remainder, enhancing their power, and on it goes.
Further, much of liberal orthodoxy is based on emotion rather than reason: compassion, guilt, rage at perceived inequities, etc. The problem with emotion-based decision-making is that it is vulnerable to rational contradiction. A good case in point is the welfare system set up under Johnson's Great Society. Originally conceived as a solution to the problem of poverty and its attendant outgrowths (such as out-of-wedlock childbirths), it has been a dismal failure with a cost in the billions of dollars that has actually produced results exactly counter to those intended. Yet, for its duration, when the program was criticized the reaction from the Left was that we simply hadn't yet spent enough money, more was needed. It wasn't until the reforms during the Clinton administration, forced upon him by the Republican Congress, that the crisis was to some extent eased. That vulnerability to rationality of the emotion-based Leftist orthodoxy is probably the main reason why any criticism of Leftist policy is met with "arguments" that essentially try to shoot the messenger: ad hominem attacks ("racist", "homophobe", "cruel", etc), diversionary arguments and tactics, refusal to directly answer questions or issues, obfuscation, science perverted from objectivity to political ends, lies, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. It's also why there's a difference in how each side of the debate views its opponents. The Right views the left as foolish or misguided, because they don't understand reason. The Left views the Right as evil, because if you don't feel the same rage or guilt or compassion -- and if you don't agree with them you obviously don't feel those same emotions -- well, then, you are obviously a bad person.
Now, it has finally reached its zenith. Whereas before the anger of the far Left was focused on the Right and some internal accommodations were made in order to preserve the coalition, that state of affairs has come to an end. Joe Lieberman can in no way be considered conservative. He's just about as traditionally liberal as it gets -- "traditionally" liberal, though, and that's the key. The far Left -- spearheaded by radicals such as the blogosphere (MoveOn, DailyKos, et al), the Sheehanites, Deaniacs, George Soros, Al Franken, Michael Moore -- has become bold enough to demand monolithism even within the Democrat party, to the point that if you're perceived as having wandered off the Leftist plantation, you are doomed if they can possibly help it. They are heaping as much scorn on their own ideological brethren as they do upon their true foes, the Right. And over single-policy issues, not overall conformance to Leftist principles. Lieberman wandered off the plantation on only one issue; he was burned at the stake for his blasphemy. This far left fringe has arrogated to itself the right to determine party policy and orthodoxy. This is an ominous development for the Democrat party.
As a conservative, I can't help but view these developments with joy. The Democrat party is pushing itself ever more leftward, away from the Mainstream America which is still rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic and traditional values. The more they become the shrill party of dogmatic obeisance to antithetical values, the less likely they'll remain a viable national party. They may go the way of the Whigs.
I have long maintained that we are in the midst of a civil war in this country, fortunately so far bloodless, but every bit as serious as the one that took place in the 19th Century, as it deals with the very issues that form the core tenets defining the nature and fabric of what this country represents. Hopefully, this is a war my side wins.