The pundits ponder the primary

Kos finds in the Tester victory a new type of Democrat: the “libertarian Democrat.” The theory is that this new type of libertarian doesn’t see government as inherently evil and recognizes that individuals now face a great danger from corporate power:

The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty — the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties.Libertarian Dems are not hostile to government like traditional libertarians. But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn't believe government is the solution for everything. But it sure as heck is effective in checking the power of corporations.

In other words, government can protect our liberties from those who would infringe upon them — corporations and other individuals.

I’m somewhat with Kos as to the description of these “new” Dems. In fact, this is probably my biggest beef with the “free market” advocates lurking about the blogosphere, that they seem to fear government more than corporate power, when corporate power has pretty clearly taken over government. Win back government for the people and by the people in a populist race, then use that government to check corporate power.

That said, I think there are some services that government can provide other than a simple guarantor of individual liberties. Government would be useful in helping create single-payer health care system, which would be more efficient and cheaper and finally cover everybody – and which is a very popular idea amongst the majority of Americans.

I hate the name, though. “Libertarian.” Yuck. Reminds me of New Hampshire cranks hiding out in tarpaper shacks.

Kos also found a Newsweek article that mentions the Montana race, Howard Fineman’s “Outside the Beltway.”

For Democrats hoping to claw their way back to national power, this is the strategic paradox: to regain control of the political Establishment, they must forget about it.Democrats aren’t likely to find leaders and answers here in the capital, and can’t expect the traditional media to light the way. Instead, Democrats need to be a “states' rights” party in a new sense, shunning the sclerotic political machinery of the capital for the new ideas, programs and tactics sprouting in the states—and in the digital netroots of America.


But perhaps the netroots’ favorite avatar in waiting is Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana. In their eyes he’s the rootin’-tootin’ real deal, a rancher turned politician who believes in government activism set free from traditional liberal thinking and interest-group methods. This week a protégé of Schweitzer’s, a rancher named Jon Tester, won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Kos happily noted that Tester comes from “the middle of nowhere”—Big Sandy, Mont.—and provided a link to a Yahoo map to prove it.

So that’s the place to start from in this new political era: not Washington, but the middle of nowhere.

I think that’s not far off. One of the reasons you can start a revolution in politics, like we’re doing here in Montana around the Tester campaign is that the forum’s small enough where people can actually have an effect on politics.

Tester’s rise is the spectacular result of local Democrats working hand-in-hand with activists, converted Republicans, and herefore disinterested citizens angered by DC’s callous disregard for peace, honesty, and the rule of law embodied in a slick-talkin’ Missouri politician. It’s a lot easier to spend the time, money, and energy politicking – even if you like the candidate and despise your opponent – when you know you, personally, as an individual can change things. Thus the movement centered around Tester.

So it’s natural that populist movement starts in a place like Montana and not in a place like California’s 50th House District. It’s easier. In California – the worlds 7th-largest economy – there’s too much money, too many people. The Dem challenger – Francine Busby – lost in large part because she ran a timid campaign aimed at wooing independent voters, the modus operandi of the mainstream Democratic party ever since Clinton.

Tester’s just proved that the issues matter less than competency and honesty. People may not agree with all of Tester’s stances – I don’t – but they trust him to do the right thing in the best interest of the state and country. We know he won’t sell us out for a small donation to his campaign funds.

Tester cultivated that image, not by hiding behind his principles, but by standing by them in clear terms. In other words, Tester won by being Tester. It’s really that simple, and Dems across the country should learn the lesson.

Meanwhile Courtney Lowery has analyzed the election returns and pinpoints likely battleground areas for the Tester-Burns duel: Bozeman, Billings and the rural counties. It’s an interesting examination of the state and well worth a read…

  1. Jim Fleischmann

    You are right about the fact that Tester won completely on character – he’s a straight-shooting guy who looks you in the eye and tells you what he thinks without equivocation. And more than anything else, this is what people want.

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