A simple request

If you were still living in Iowa and could caucus on 1/3/08, for whom would you caucus and why? I am soliciting input.


Trevor said...

Oof. Not such a simple request. I'll probably caucus for Edwards, but am willing to be persuaded by Obama supporters. So far the phone calls and door knocks and invitations to house parties I regularly get from his campaign haven't done it for me. Though I appreciate the attention.

My reasons for supporting Edwards at this point have a lot to do with seizing an opportunity to push a populist agenda and change the way the federal government operates. Of all the candidates, Edwards has been the most convincing about his desire and his ability. I think Obama has the desire but not the ability. I don't believe Clinton has either the desire or the ability. Edwards is the reason that Obama and Clinton have universal health care plans.

I will say that I'm thinking about registering Republican so I can push for anti-Iraq War gadfly Ron Paul. How hilarious would it be if he took second or third in the Iowa caucus? Right-wing heads around the country would explode.

Now, having said all this stuff, I feel a little naive and exposed. Does everyone always feel undereducated when it comes time to throw your weight behind a candidate? It's always such a leap of faith. I mean, maybe I should support Kucinich. He's really liberal, right? But then I start to think about electability. Is that shallow? And what about Iraq? Is it possible that it really would be better to keep a big troop presence there? Is Biden right to push for partitioning? Maybe I like him for secretary of defense.

Hell, can I vote for all of them? Can they start today?

Pete said...

It pains me to say this, because, really, his politics are the most consistent with my own.

But seriously: fuck John Edwards.

The problem is that he's pledged to take public financing in general election so long as the GOP candidate does the same. This is a horrible mistake. For once the Dems have a fundraising advantage, but if Edwards is the candidate, it's gone. Even worse, he's running out of money and he wouldn't get the public funds until the convention. It'd be like the summer of the swiftboat all over again, except instead of choosing to ignore it like Kerry did, he just wouldn't have the money to hit back. I think it could be the most elaborately stupid way of repeating history ever.

There are those who say this disadvantage wouldn't be so bad. I don't know. "Electability" isn't usually an issue for me, but then again "electability" is usually about image and abstraction: this is concrete. And in an election against a fascist like Giuliani, the stakes would be astronomical. We just can't give up any advantage. I don't think it's an overstatement to say this stands to be one of the most important elections in American history. These are 1828, 1860, 1968 stakes.

I'm not sure you're right about the healthcare thing, but I think it's true in a larger sense: his presence in the race puts pressure on the frontrunners in a way that I really like. I'll give him that.

After a stint in the also-ran hinterlands, I've returned to the Obama fold. I've got qualms about the guy here and there, sure. But rhetoric is a powerful, powerful thing, and in our culture a presidential campaign can be its highest expression. There are times when rhetoric matters more than anything else. I think this might be one of those times, and I think Obama benefits from the most inspiring and skillful rhetoric I've ever witnessed firsthand (top hatted reenactments don't count).

Did you guys see the speech he gave over the weekend? Holy shit, it was good. I watched it, on youtube no less, thinking to myself: I might be witnessing history right now. You know- in a good way. For fucking once.

T-bone said...

I think I've become a yard sign person after the city elections. An Obama sign could be there on the weekend. We get more traffic here on Lucas then you would think, so if anyone wants to persuade me (and papagilly), now is your chance.

cj said...

I have an Obama sign. I like Edwards enough, but it just seems like a bad idea to choose anyone whose fingerprints are on that Iraq war resolution. How can a person like that make the case against the Republicans on arguably the most important issue out there? It was such a problem for Kerry in 2004. Edwards and Clinton can talk all they want about leadership, but where was that leadership in 2003? At least Edwards admits he made a mistake, but admitting that you made a mistake on one of the most important issues you ever addressed is hardly an argument for your candidacy.

Obama's not perfect, and there's a risk that he'll turn out to have feet of clay as a candidate. But he seems to be in a much better position to make all the points I'd like to hear made. And he seems to be willing to challenge the ever-annoying conventional so-called wisdom in at least some ways.

I'm mystified as to anyone's reason for voting for Clinton. To me she seems the least electable, the most accommodating of the Republicans' militaristic rhetoric, the least likely to challenge the status quo in any meaningful way. Even the experience argument seems bogus to me: we're supposed to count her experience as First Lady? (If proximity to the presidency counts as experience, then George W. Bush had just as much experience as Clinton.) Moreover, decades of experience doesn't seem to have stopped Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co. (and their Congressional enablers in both parties) from wreaking their havoc. I just don't get the support for Clinton.

Of course, elections have historically served only to remind me of my utter alienation from the rest of humanity. My support for Obama is probably the surest indicator that Clinton will win.

cj said...

By the way, I remain a loyal Earthgoat lurker. Am very much enjoying NaPoBloMo, as well as the return of SER.

Grendel said...

Obama. I just like him best.

Plus he would instantly be the coolest president of all time.

Trevor said...

Pete, I agree with everything you've said, especially with the praise for Obama's barnburner of a speech Saturday night. But I think you're overestimating the damage sticking with public financing will do to Edwards. It may make things more difficult, but the money Edwards won't be able to take or spend can go to the DNC or other 527s. When a response is necessary to the inevitable attacks, it's not like Edwards or the DNC will have to just silently take it for five months. The swiftboat attacks were successful not because Kerry didn't run ads countering them, but because he refused to hit back at all (thinking he didn't need to dignify such rot) for too long. Plenty of free press comes from the statements a candidate makes to reporters.

I agree that this election is important, especially in keeping Giuliani out. This decision for public funds though is exactly the kind of principle and willingness to create change I'm talking about. If someone doesn't win on public funds, no one will ever try it and the program may disappear altogether rather than get bolstered so every candidate can choose it, expanding the field of potential future candidates.

The special-interest group money has got to get out of funding these multi-billion dollar campaigns. I like the idea of a candidate taking office with as few strings attached as possible.

Pete said...

I think we basically agree. There are reasonable people on both sides of the Edwards on public funding issue.

The difference between our positions may not be so much in the estimation of the risk he'd be taking but what that risk is worth. Campaign reform is important to me, but it's not at the top of my list right now. It's a sad state of affairs that it isn't. Eight years of epic buffoonery forces tough choices.

The inverse of what your saying is true as well- if Edwards runs on public dollars and loses, will that spell the death of reform?

It's just not the gamble I'd like to make in this election. And honestly- does anyone think it's the gamble Edwards wanted to make? Of course not. He just ran out of money. That's what pisses me off about it. This is opportunism as much as principle on his part.

On a pragmatic level, caucuses often come down to second choices. I remember in 04, all the Clark people in my particular middle school gymnasium broke as a group for Kerry when the general didn't make it to the lightning round (or whatever it's called). This seemed, at the time, more a move against Dean than a move for Kerry. Makes me wonder how it might all play out this time. If Edwards shows poorly, where do his people go- against Hillary and to Obama? What about the Doddies et al? My guess is that Obama is a lot of people's second choice and that Hillary is almost no ones. Whether he's enough people's 1st choice remains to be seen, I guess.

So for you caucusers, who's #2?

T-bone said...

I suppose Kucinich is not a viable 2nd choice.

Trevor said...

I'm not sure that Edwards' campaign had run out of money. I know that's the speculation/CW, but he certainly could have begun loaning his campaign his own money if he was having trouble raising funds. Edwards hasn't come near the spending cap in Iowa that public financing will require, so unless I misunderstand what that means, he hasn't run out of raised money. Certainly his fundraising wasn't going to match Obama's or Clinton's, so the calculation may be there as a way of distinguishing himself. Ultimately, if this advances actual campaign finance reform, his motives are less important to me.

And to anyone who wants to see hypocrisy in using public funds as opposed to one's own private wealth, bite it. Stop checking that box on your income tax return, then. (Sorry for the preemptive touchiness.)

As for where Edwards supporters go if he's not viable, dimes to dollars they'll move to Obama's camp and vice versa. I know I will. I'm with CJ above, I don't think Clinton won't take Iowa. But this may be one of those "I don't know anybody who voted for Reagan" kind of things. Clinton's base isn't in Iowa City, so far as I've been able to tell.

Either way, it's critical for Obama or Edwards to take or finish strong in Iowa and New Hampshire. They need the victories to shift the media narrative from Clinton's inevitability, which is a frustrating thing for me. They keep touting these national polls showing Clinton in a far-out lead, but she's the only one most of the people being polled even know. You stick Bill Clinton on the list and people would pick him, unaware he can't run again.

Sorry for the ramble. Go Hawks.

Trevor said...

I mean, "I don't think Clinton WILL take Iowa."

Proofread, Jackson.