So, I figured it's about time I spoke about the Democratic primary races.
There's 9 candidates running (as of right now). Alphabetically, with title and links to websites: Governor of Vermont Howard Dean
, Senator from North Carolina John Edwards
, Representative from Missouri Dick Gephardt
, Senator from Florida Bob Graham
, Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry
, Representative from Ohio Dennis Kucinich
, Senator from Connecticut Joseph Lieberman
, Former Senator from Illinois Carol Mosley Braun
, and Reverend Al Sharpton
- he's from New York, in case you're wondering.
Conventional wisdom has it that there's 3 groups of 3 out of these 9. The front runners, the dark horses, and the ones that never had a chance.
Never Had a Chance:
Carol Mosley Braun.
I'm not familiar with several of these candidates yet, but I think that actually gives me a better idea of how the national electorate will respond to them. My gut feelings on them, combined with what I've picked up in discussions with my moderate-republican boss who wants to vote against Bush, too.
: He's getting tons of support from people who've never been involved in politics before. I think that points as much to his exceptional use of the web as much as his stance. Heck, I don't like parts of his stance. He's too attack-minded in public...in group appearances by the Dems, he's been fairly combative. I don't see that playing very well. Plus, he comes across to me (when I see him on TV) as really creepy looking. You know that won't work (not that it's a particularly attractive field in the Democratic party). Plus, he's the governor of Vermont. I'm from Massachusetts, and let me tell you - Vermont is a backwater. Sure, Jimmy Carter was from Georgia, and that's pretty back woods in many people's minds, but at least it has Atlanta. And Bush is from Texas, which is a fairly insane place, but it's big, so it seems like he did something important. Maybe if he had more national-level experience, it wouldn't be an issue.
So, to sum it up...I think Dean could do very good things for the party...but I really don't think that he can win a national election. The Dean-ites, who are practically fanatical at this point, will likely skewer me for this one, but I gotta call 'em as I see 'em.
: He's got the war record. He's got years of experience in the Senate. He's got connections. He's got all sorts of things. But he's also got a credibility problem. John Kerry is ripe for a Gore-ing. And that means he doesn't stand a chance. Is it deserved? I don't know. He seems to be fluid on a few issues, but I'm not convinced it's because he's wishy-washy...but that's how it will be portrayed in the SCLM (So-Called Liberal Media, if you're wondering). So he can't win. Lots of people don't trust him (or will learn that they shouldn't). This happened in 2000, with Kerry it could happen again in 2004. That would be disastrous, to say the least.
: I like Gephardt. The big 3 all have proposals and stated policy views I like, but Gephardt has qualities that rank him over the other frontrunners. For starters, he's not from New England. That matters. There's an image in much of the country of the elitist New England liberal...Kerry is going to catch flak on that, too. Gephardt is from the midwest, which gives him a bonus. He also has tremendous Union support, and while some think unions might be outdated or something, you still need unions to win. His plan for healthcare is brilliant and he's got a solid war chest built up from his congressional runs.
So, let's see. Union support, solid money backing him up, really smart health care plan, no obvious weaknesses. He's the guy with the best chance to win vs Bush, in my mind. And that is the most important thing. On to the dark horses.
: The Daily Show sums this one up pretty well: He's the candidate for voters that like Bush, but don't think he's Jewish enough. Lieberman is one of the most consistently republican voters the democratic party has ever seen. The guy is pro-censorship, pro-big business....he's practically a republican. Let's just move on.
: He's got the looks....and not much else. He's been very quiet so far, after a fairly hot start. I have yet to hear anything substantial from him. I'm willing to bet that lots of potential voters don't even know who he is. You have to get your name out there if you want to win, and Edwards hasn't figured out how to do that yet.
: He's from Florida. He's got boatloads of money, as I understand it. But he's a first-term senator, and apparently he keeps an utterly meticulous diary/schedule, one that covers literally every single thing he does. There's rumors that this might hurt him, or maybe there's something in there that can hurt him (I have no idea if there are copies in the possession of anyone trying to discredit him). He, too, has been remarkably silent on most of the issues. He might make a decent VP candidate, since he could help gain Floridian voters.
Nothing spectacular in that group. Let's move on to the Never had a Chance crowd:
Carol Mosley Braun
. Her website is as spartan as her campaign efforts seem to be. I really know nothing about her, and neither do 90something percent of the people in this country. She's certainly done lots of work in government, but she just isn't making any noise. Plus, the odds of the first female president also being the first black president are so out-there as to be hard to fathom.
: Well, first off, let me link to this
. How did I find that? It's a paid sponsor on www.google.com. They're actually telling Republicans to change parties and vote for Sharpton.
Al Sharpton is a brilliant man, and a great American. But he's also a bit of a laughingstock. He shouldn't be...but he is. Part of it is his perm...part of it is his ties to Jesse Jackson. The man was ordained when he was 9, for crying out loud. Bush was probably still learning to spell George at that point...
Hopefully, Al Sharpton can help shape some of the debate in the Democratic party. The interests of blacks have been absent from the party's platform for some time, and the Dems need black voters to turn out in big numbers if they want to win...and Sharpton is a guy that can re-invigorate the black voters.
: I've left Kucinich until last for a reason. I'm a big supporter. Dean has co-opted Paul Wellstone's line about representing the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party", but Kucinich is the one who really does. He's a real progressive. He's got lots of good ideas that the party as a whole should be considering. But he's getting crushed by a lack of publicity. After Gephardt, he has the strongest union support. He and Sharpton aren't running to win (well, they might say they are...but they have to know that they can't win). They're running to change the Democratic party, make it more like the party of FDR, JFK, and RFK than the party of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
Later on, I'll go into some of the reasons Kucinich deserves more support. Not yet, tho.
So, what brings this up? MoveOn.org
is having a straw pole to find out where it's membership stands. The winner will get the financial and political backing of MoveOn, which has become a fairly large progressive PAC. If you aren't a member, you should join - and vote.