John R. MacArthur: A pre-election tour of Waterbury
01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
IT MIGHT SEEM unfair to the citizens of this worn-out jewel of New England’s industrial past, but come Nov. 7, Waterbury voters could well determine the future conduct, not only of the Democratic Party, but of the war in Iraq.
Like it or not, Waterbury is emblematic of one side of the angry divide among Democrats all over the country — anti-war versus pro-war; reformers versus regulars; upper-middle class versus blue collar. And if I’m right that the trailing insurgent and anti-war Democrat Ned Lamont will close the gap in his bitter contest with incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman between now and election day, the regular-party resistance to Lamont in the one-time “Brass City” will have much to do with the outcome.
As I toured Waterbury the other week, all the contradictions that afflict the former “popular” party — the ones that have reduced it to a minority in Congress — were in striking evidence. So too was the decay that has reduced huge sections of urban America from self-confident industrial health to a status you might call “just getting by.”