Friday, June 27, 2003

On Politics: A Toe In The Water Oh The Heck With It *SPLASH*

For some reason I've been hesitating for over a week now to post this. I'm really not sure why... I think I may have unknowingly internalized a feeling, back in the days of my childhood, that it's permissible to join a conversation about partisan politics, and to be as fiery and impassioned as you like once you're there... but it's not okay to start one. It's a natural response to growing up in a family where peace is a fragile thing, I suppose: We're all having such a nice time talking about the weather, dear, so let's not spoil it by talking about that stuff, hmm?

Plus, it touches on the whole strangers-on-an-airplane scenario--those taboo subjects that send cold shivers of terror down your spine as soon as your seatmate mentions them: politics, religion, multilevel marketing schemes... If I start talking a little too enthusiastically about a candidate on my blog, will my readers all shrink away from me in their seats and bury their noses in their John Grisham novels? Such an uncomfortable thought.

But screw it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am supporting Governor Howard Dean for president. I'm even volunteering for his local campaign organization in Santa Cruz, which is a first for me, and I'm donating money to the national campaign as well. And what's more, I'm hoping you will, too! Dammit, I don't care who I alienate!

I hasten to add that I have nothing against any of the other democratic candidates. (Well, okay, I'd cringe a bit if I had to vote for Joe Lieberman, but I would vote for him if he took the nomination.) But with the others, the full extent of my support is that they'd be light years better than another four years of President Codpiece... whereas I'm actually deeply enthusiastic about voting for Dean, and I can't remember any other presidential race in my life when that was so true, so early on. I'm excited about the guy. How cool is that?

The other day my friend Larissa, a Kucinich supporter, asked me to explain my ideas for why she should get behind Dean instead, and I gave her a longwinded inside-politics sort of answer--that while Dean is liberal enough to suit me on most of the issues I care about, and outspokenly partisan in a way that energizes the liberal base of the party, he has a mix of moderate positions that could play well among swing voters and make inroads in Bush's centrist support... and furthermore, that while in other years these things might not matter to me so much (indeed, in other years I would probably be supporting Kucinich just to make sure the party's progressive wing is well represented when convention time comes), it's so critically important to the very future of the republic that we beat Bush in 2004, practical considerations have to dominate my decision-making process. So I'm going to pick the candidate I think has the best chance in a general election against Bush, and push as hard as I can to get that candidate nominated, and if that means I have to compromise a bit, so be it.

All of that is true, but on reflection I've realized that it wasn't the right answer--or rather, it was only part of the answer: I had explained why someone might want to, y'know, ahem, <mumble>vote for Howard Dean</mumble>, but not why I personally am planning to vote for Howard Dean, if you see the distinction.

The truth is, Dean isn't a compromise candidate for me. His opinions, attitudes and approaches to policymaking aren't a 100% perfect match with mine, but they resonate more than any other candidate I can remember.

I am, by emotional inclination, an idealistic progressive lefty liberal, but by intellectual bent I am a skeptic and pragmatist (hence the pragmaticrat label I was talking about in my previous post), so when discussing politics with serious progressive/green types, I often find myself in respectful disagreement with them. I'm nearly always in sympathy with them--I wholeheartedly agree with their reasons for taking the positions they do--but still, I often have the uncomfortable sense that those positions haven't been thought all the way through, and so I hesitate to support them fully, even though I share their ideals.

(Continued in next post to work around obnoxious blogger bug.)

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