As I hinted earlier in the week, I’m seriously considering switching candidates. I’ve been watching debates, subscribing to campaign blogs, reading stories and thinking. I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking. I came up with a list earlier in the fall, about the time we started up nonDependant, of things I thought about the race. Reading over it, I still think those things. Looking at the (now) 8 Democratic candidates, they fall into three categories:
- The Mavericks: Clark and Dean
- Old Washingon: Gephard, Kerry, Lieberman and Edwards
- Truth Wrapped in Comic Relief: Kucinich and Sharpton
We’ll start at the bottom. We all know that Kucinich, Sharpton and the recently departed Braun can’t win. The three of them, though, have had some of the funniest, best, and most pointed moments in the debates. Kucinich, although I disagree with him on a lot of his stands, especially Iraq, he still raises very well-thought out positions. Sharpton, again, don’t agree with him on a lot, and he has a lot of past to explain, has had some really nice moments in the debates. Braun running has been historic, but she’s never really made much of an impression. The trio has been entertaining, but I’m pretty sure it’s time for the other two members of the No Hope Club to drop out.
Old Washington has really pulled out the stops in this one. I almost feel bad lumping Edwards into this group, but he’s in Washington now, and that counts. Edwards is still a bit of an enigma to me, and I’ll be digging more up on him in the coming weeks (I have less than a month till our primary). The other three in this group have run traditional, by-the-rules, run-not-to-lose campaigns. They’ve been uninspiring, sniping, and petty. I’m extremely disappointed in the top three. Their relentless attacks on the front-runner have come across to me as petty and desperate. Their approach looks old and dated next to…
The Mavericks. Dean first, and then Clark, have captured my imagination. Neither have sold their soul to the Party; neither look to me to be beholden to anyone. This is a good thing. As liberal as Dean’s supporters are, he’s a fiscal conservative. He looks crazy next to the Old Washington set because he actually speaks the truth as he sees it and isn’t embarrassed by it. The same with Clark. Both have been lambasted by the other campaigns for their “gaffes” and “changing positions”, but I see that as men thinking about issues, and changing their minds as new information comes up. While Clark and Dean are vastly different in background, their level of grassroots support is not only impressive, it’s an inspiration to me. Comparing the percentage of donations under $2000 is revealing as well. Almost 70% of Dean’s contributions are less than $200, and almost 40% of Clark’s are (the data’s a few months old). The other graphs on that page are just as revealing. The Old Washington candidates are about even with President Bush, the king of the special interest, corporate donors. That means something to me. It means both Clark and Dean have the support of real people, and the candidates aren’t owned by PAC’s, corporations or other unsavory groups. Both seem to speak their conscience and reveal what they really think, which is risky, but I respect that.
Now, there is a lot at stake in this election. This isn’t just a referendum on a failed President. This is a campaign about the future of the political process. Like the television before it, the internet is revolutionizing the political process, evening the playing field and opening doors for candidates like Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Candidates who found their base on the internet, and parlayed that base into mainstream exposure, and more support. It just makes sense. That others are following means that the internet is probably here to stay in politics. Now, how do we harness is and keep it from turning into the wasteland that television has become?
This also doesn’t explain who I’m voting for. Honestly, I still don’t know. Right now, it’s between Clark and Dean. I think Edwards is third, and Kerry is not that far behind. I have a few weeks left.