Lawrence O’Donnell: Why liberals need to support conservative Democrats

Lawrence O’Donnell is an American political analyst, journalist, actor, producer, writer, and host of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, a weeknight MSNBC opinion and news program. Before his work in television, (including a stint as a writer for The West Wing) O’Donnel spent six years as a Senate legislative aide, political advisor and staffer, so he has an insider’s perspective on the political realities in Washington.

O’Donnell has never been shy about his leftist leanings. In various interviews, he has called himself a “practical European socialist” expressing support for regulated capitalism and mixed economies with both socialist and capitalist elements. On August 20, on his show The Last Word, socialist O’Donnell made an eloquent and impassioned case for supporting conservative Democrats, and in particular, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill.

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Anyone watching the news in the last few days knows that McCaskill is in a very close race with right wing religious zealot Todd Akin—who, among his many extreme ideas, thinks that if a woman experiences a “legitimate rape,” she will not get pregnant. He also, along with Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, supports a personhood amendment, and is calling for the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare. A home schooling advocate, Akin has called for dismantling the Department of Education. Unfortunately, in red state Missouri, even though his ideas are way outside of the mainstream, his extremism has a strong appeal among religious fundamentalists who may turn out for him in large numbers at the polls.

McCaskill needs to win for Democrats to retain control of the Senate. To do so, she has to appeal to the generally moderate voter in Missouri. That she has consistently pandered to moderate to conservative Democrats has always annoyed me, but O’Donnell helped me understand why we need Democrats like her. As O’Donnell explains, without the Claire McCaskills, there can be no Kirsten Gillibrand, or Barbara Boxer or Sherrod Brown. Without conservative Democrats, there is no controlling the Senate. Thanks Lawrence, I finally got it. We liberals owe the embattled McCaskill a lot.