Sunday, December 30, 2007

If I lived in Iowa...

who would I caucus for on Thursday?

Let me start by saying that I really like the caucus process. I attended the precinct and county caucuses in Washington in 2004, and it's a more interesting form of democracy than voting. It requires more significant participation, and your actions are public, and challengable, so you have to be better able to defend your position, and be willing to think through other options if your first candidate doesn't get the requisite percentage of support (sort of like Instant Runoff Voting). The drawback is that it requires voters to be able to commit to being at the caucus location for 2-3 hours on election night, it requires voters to be willing to step out from behind the curtain and make their support for a particular candidate public, and it requires a certain confidence in yourself to be able to speak in a public setting and advocate for your candidate, popular or not, which is very difficult for many people.

That being said, if I were there Thursday night, what would I do?

Here's who I would not caucus for -

Mike Gravel - He is an outsider (being out of government for a long time), is strong on getting out of Iraq, but is not nearly ready to be president.

Dennis Kucinich - Every time I take one of these "Who matches best with you" political questionnaires, I find that I match up best with Kucinich. He's the most liberal of the candidates running, and I appreciate that. So why wouldn't I support him? The best way I can put it is from a friend of mine, who said "Kucinich, when he is given a chance to speak on something that isn't his passion comes off terrific - the moment it is something he cares deeply about, I want to back away slowly." I think Kucinich's passion would prevent him from working well with anyone who doesn't agree with him 100%, and we already have a president like that. Our government never works well when one branch digs its heels in that far.

Joe Biden - Joe Biden is a plagiarist. No matter what he says, or whether or not I agree with him, that's my lasting view of the man.

Chris Dodd - I love Dodd's passion for and support of the Constitution. I want to see him as a leading voice to get rid of the MCA and to restore the Bill of Rights. But I think that's best done in the Senate, which needs his leadership. I am not looking for an entrenched political figure in this election, because I can't stand the way things are done, and that's a big mark against Dodd. I think he's too close to too much of the "establishment" to make some of the radical changes we desperately need.

Bill Richardson - I really want to like Richardson, but every time I see him speak, he (1) puts me to sleep and (2) makes good points, but makes them awkwardly and unclearly.

Hillary Clinton - I've written about Hillary before. Most of her political opinions are reasonable, and I don't think she'd be a horrible president. I do think that she says what she thinks people want to hear (who else changes from being a Cubs fan to being a Yankees fan?), and I think that she is too much in the hold of Democratic lobbyists, etc, as an arm of the DLC. A 2nd Clinton presidency would be a heck of a lot better than any of the GOP candidates, but it wouldn't break the ties to the corporate world that our political process we desperately need.

We're now down to Barack Obama and John Edwards. I like both of them, for different reasons.

I've seen Obama in person twice, and he has impressed me each time with his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, and his ability to talk knowledgeably about issues important to all sorts of people. I do believe that he really wants to raise the level of discourse in politics, and he connects strongly with the part of me that likes politics and wants government to be a place where great ideas are talked about in great conversations. He was right about Iraq in 2002, and his record on opposing Bush's foreign policy is as strong as anyone running (save Kucinich). He's a relative newcomer to the DC system, which I see as a strength. What I worry about is that he may be too much of an idealist. Obama wants to reach out to Republicans and business and lobbyists and bring them into a real, adult, vital conversation about issues that are truly important to our country, and while I love that in principle, I'm afraid that he would be the only one at the table interested in and willing to actually engage in that conversation.

I liked Edwards a lot in 2004 - I supported Dean, but was somewhat excited to vote Democratic not because of Kerry, but because of Edwards. I think Edwards speaks well to the core ideals of liberalism - helping the sick and the young and the weak, and using our shared strength to help those who need help. He has been honest about his wrong vote on Iraq 5 years ago, and his stance since then has been consistent and clear. Edwards talks a lot about fighting against the corporate influence which has done such harm to our country, and he has taken an important first step by accepting matching public funds, which restricts the kinds of fundraising he can do. There are some in the netroots who think this is a horrible mistake, since he'll have less money than the Republican candidate, but the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC all have money that will be used in the general election, so I'm not as worried about that. I don't know if he can really advance progress on some serious issues without the lobbyists causing all sorts of havoc and buying the hell out of other people involved in the process, but I think it's worth a try.

Throughout this process, Edwards and Obama have been 1/1A for me, and I've gone back and forth between them. I would gladly support either of them in the general election, but, all things considered, if I was going to be caucusing on Thursday, I'd support ...

John Edwards.


Anonymous said...

I agree except for the Obama part. Privately, I simply can't see where he is qualified to be President. However, I would eagerly support him (or any other Democrat).

Brenda Helverson

drmagoo said...

Thanks, Brenda.

I'm not entirely sure what the qualifications are that he doesn't have. I don't, personally, think that experience in Washington is as necessary as many think. I'd rather have someone who was intelligent and could solve problems than, say, someone who had experience being governor of a large state on our southern border...

jimbow8 said...

I'm leaning more towards Edwards all the time, but that is mainly because I'm learning more about the OTHER candidates. I like Obama (as a Pres candidate) less all the time due mainly to his Health care plan (as explained by Paul Krugman); I don't like the way he's handling his campaign.

Anonymous said...

If I lived in Iowa...I'd move! But before that, Edwards.