From the Washington Post:

"HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 8 -- In a stark repudiation, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) narrowly lost the Democratic Senate primary here Tuesday night, falling to antiwar candidate Ned Lamont in a campaign that became a referendum on the incumbent's support for the Iraq war."

Read the full story here.

Post staff writers, Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray, conveniently set off the lead sentence in the above news story with a passive clause: "In a stark repudiation, Joe Lieberman narrowly lost...." Historians learn in grad school to avoid passive voice whenever possible for reasons of clarity. For example, in this case, who did the repudiating?

An aside: I will forego (or at least suspend) my quibble with the clumsy and inconsistent adjectives: "stark" modifying "repudiation" and "narrowly" modifying "lost." Was it "stark" or was it "narrow"?

Back to my main question: Who done it? Who repudiated Lieberman and his support for the Iraq war? The Democrats? That is more accurate--but still misleading. Actually, 146,587 Democrats voted against Joe Lieberman, which is less than five percent of the population of CT (which is approximately 3.4 million residents, with approximately 2 million registered voters).

During the next few days, Joe Lieberman will face intense pressure from the media and Democratic operatives to "bow to the will of the people" (for example: "The People have spoken; why isn't Joe listening?").

However, it is disingenuous to conflate this primary election with the definitive "voice of the people." If you do the math, the 146,587 Democrats who voted against Joe Lieberman last night amounted to less than 10 percent of the eligible voters in the state. Joe Lieberman has every right (some of us would say "duty") to defend his seat, his positions and his eighteen-year record in the Senate before a much larger and more representative pool of voters.

I agree with his eloquent statement in defeat:

"I am, of course, disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged. I'm disappointed not just because I lost but because the old politics of partisan polarization won today. For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand."

He is right: this is an extremely important decision that demands clarification.

Democracy? Remember that neither parties, primaries or even democracy were envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. The party primaries have been with us for approximately 100 years. They work well--but we should not confuse them with Constitutional government. The primaries are extra-constitutional tools, which the parties (extra-constitutional institutions) employ to facilitate order and intra-party loyalty.

Joe Lieberman's decision to take his case to the people of Connecticut on appeal is wise and valiant. By the way, the Framers would have loved Joe Lieberman, for they wished for statesmen who put principle over party and self interest.

More to come on what this might mean for the modern two-party system and how Providence might play a role in this campaign...