Dick Lugar, The Tea Party, and (Here's Hoping!) The Future of American Politics

You remember Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), don't you? He's that guy back there by the dust-covered potted plant in the Senate (that would be Sen. Lautenberg), who's been hanging around for 36 years.

So what's new?

Mr. Lugar, who has not had a primary challenger since he first won election in 1976 and last contended with a race where the margin was close in 1982, is locked in a Republican primary fight for the seat he has held for six terms with the May 8 election fast approaching. A poll conducted late last month, the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll, showed Mr. Lugar leading Richard E. Mourdock, the state’s treasurer, 42 percent to 35 percent among likely primary voters, an advantage that is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus five points.

Why is Lugar in a race?

Tea Party groups and organizations like the Club for Growthand the National Rifle Association are questioning his conservative credentials, some pointing to positions he has taken in favor of the bank bailout, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, the New Start nuclear arms control treaty, and more.

More here.

You can go here for a rundown on Lugar's voting record over the years.

I'm less interested in his specific record (it's not all bad, but there's a lot of junk in that, including support for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and the erosion of civil liberties) than in the fact that folks such as him and Battlin' Orrin Hatch in Utah (who is "doggone offended" by "radical libertarians") are at least being forced to actually get off their duffs to tell voters why they deserve a lifetime sinecure on the public dole.

That's as it should be in, well, a democracy. And it shows that contrary to many accounts, the tea party and related groups interested in cutting spending and the size of government, haven't gone away. These groups, bless their pointed little heads, are still willing to rock the boat, even when a "safe" seat for the phoney-baloney small-government GOP is on the line.

Independent voters - those not slavishly tethered to one party or another - will determine this and every other election for decades to come, just as independent shoppers decide the fate of brands in cars, electronics, you name it.

As Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) could tell you (he told Matt Welch and me, right here!), the GOP will become vibrant to the extent it starts taking cues and positions from the libertarian part of its members. And you know what? The same would be true for the Dems.

Read more in that vein in Matt Welch and my The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I thought Nick Gillespie had some sort of book out, but he's so modest that he never tells us about it.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Modesty is for people with no talent.

    My first girlfriend said that. We're still friends...

  • Almanians First||

    You were always the most modest man I ever had, sweetie.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sooooooo...more racist Tea Party smokescreening?

  • deified||

    Richard Lugars stumpy legs are disgusting.

  • deified||

    *Lugar's

  • fish||

    You said it Zing. LOL!

  • The Other Kevin||

    Wow, you mean when I vote next month it might actually be for something consequential? Sure would be nice to see one of these lifers retire early for once.

  • Hugh Akston||

    When comfortably incumbent politicians lose their seats, the terrorists have already won.

  • Ex Nihilo||

    Sure would be nice to see one of these lifers retire early for once.

    After 36 years in the senate, I think it is a little late for that.

  • Brett L||

    Eh. Too damn many go out horizontally.

  • Ex Nihilo||

    I remember reading a study once that said they had a greater chance of dying in office rather than being removed by voters.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    "removed by voters"

    Hey, hey, hey! Let's watch the elimunashuniszt rhetorick, mmm'kay?

  • Brett L||

    I'm pretty sure the last Senator "removed by voters" was Bobby Kennedy. Wait, Sirhan wasn't a citizen.

  • Ex Nihilo||

    They're taking our jerbs, and our senators!

  • Jerryskids||

    Remember, Lugar is a farmer as well. Kicking him out of the Senate ain't gonna get him off the public teat.

    I think this is pretty much a repeat of the Specter/Toomey 2004 primary where the Establishment GOP backed a "RINO"* over an actual conservative because they needed that one Senate seat to maintain their majority, so to hell with any pretense at principles. Just as Specter and the Bush GOP deserved each other, so too with Lugar and the Romney GOP.

    *I say "RINO" because I am pretty sure those are the True Republicans. The term "RINO" would better fit Paul père et fils.

  • John Thacker||

    He is a farmer, but he's actually pretty good (not perfect) on farm subsidies, especially sugar. One of his better positions.

    I don't see the point of attacking politicians who take the standard farm subsidies but vote against them. It seems like a silly argument.

  • Brett L||

    Lugar is a farmer? Isn't he the guy who can't vote in I'polis because he hasn't maintained a residence outside of DC since the early 80s?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I have this weird vision of Carl Weathers approaching him and explaining how he needs to regain the eye of the tiger.

  • robc||

    Carl Weathers will one day be governor of some state. The Predator will make it so.

  • robc||

    He was born in Louisiana...would he move back?

  • Pro Libertate||

    No doubt at all.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Do you think he'll beat Bill Duke to an executive seat?

  • The Overfiend||

    Well, Billy What'sHisFace (the guy that was in Predator and 48 HRS.) ran for something in Tennessee so I wouldn't be surprised.

    He should have run years ago though. That way, he and Arnold could have done the epic arm wrestle greeting again at a Governor's Meeting.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He's the great link between Schwarzenegger and Stallone. And Ford.

  • Randian||

    You meant to saw "Richard Dawson" will one day be governor, because The Running Man will make it so.

    Related

  • Randian||

    *say* dammit!

  • Pip||

    Okay. dammit!

  • Randian||

    I laughed.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    I had no idea Lugar was still in office.

    On the other hand, I live in a state whose genius population continues to send potted-plant Debbie Stabenow to the Senate every 6 years, along with the already-deeply-rooted Carl Levin.

    What a couple of winners representing the Great Lakes State!

  • ||

    But nobody can hope to match Lautenberg and Schumer. Those cuntstains are the grand masters of political retardation.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Truedat

  • Hugh Akston||

    Dude. Bruh. Boxer/Feinstein up in this bitch.

  • ||

    What the hell's wrong with you, Hugh? Those are WOMEN. True libertarians pay no attention to women, refuse to converse with them directly, and resist acknowledging their existence unless they're popping out kids or making a caviar sandwich in the kitchen.

    You've failed the test of purity. Surrender your ruby-encrusted monocle and get out.

  • ||

    Boxer and Feinstein? Oh. Well, the above applies to inhuman screeching banshees as well as women, in that case.

  • fish||

    Those are WOMEN.

    Gender identification FAIL.

  • Drake||

    Lautenberg and Schumer are from different states. Both have younger Senator-for-life proteges.

  • deified||

    Lautenberg was verifiably in the throes of dementia during his 1994 campaign, no joke.

  • jacob||

    Per the link, congressman Lugar voted yes to Iraq, yes to increased federal funding for education, and yes to increasing penalties for drug offenders.

    It's not his conservative credentials that need questioning, I think it's his common sense.

    Go Mourdock?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I do feel bad for senators. They just get elected and think they can relax and then BOOM, six years later they have to run again.

  • ||

    You're right that Lugar has not been all bad, but Mourdock would be better.

    Besides, one must ask why an 80 year old man is running for a 6 year term? Why not retire and leave with good will?

    My suspicion is that he has come to view the seat as his personal property--as many in Washington eventually do--and wants to engineer an handoff to some favored heir or acolyte.

    Mourdock's view are more in line with mine and I see him as an improvement, so he'll be getting my vote.

    --Colin
    A Hoosier member of the Republican party and proud friend of liberty.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Graveyards are full of "indispensable men." What frequently happens is these old turds wait forever to retire and when they do it is an inauspicious moment and the other Party wins the seat.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    "the GOP will become vibrant to the extent it starts taking cues and positions from the libertarian part of its members."

    All that blather is just a dog whistle for your radical libertarians' pro-sodomy views.

  • deified||

    That's pro-mandatory-sodomy to you, asshole.

  • Another Phil||

    All that blather is just a dog whistle for your radical libertarians' pro-sodomy views.

    You say that as if it's a bad thing.

  • califernian||

    You had be at "Obama's court nominees". Good grief, if he supported Kagan or Sotomayor he is not only a fake conservative, he might be a communist plant.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    This is why Socons and libertarians aren't as opposed to each other as some would like to think. The Lugars of this world tend to sell out both groups. Working with icky socons against common opponents shouldn't be any worse than working with icky stoners.

  • PaganPriestess||

    Lugar sucks.

  • ||

    Primaries are the only place where anything of significance can happen. General elections are very tightly controlled nowadays.

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