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Feb 18, 2004
no more politics, i swear

Now that Howard Dean has dropped out of the race, I can turn the television on again. I just couldn’t stand to watch the downward spiral that began in Iowa, picked up speed in New Hampshire and was sent into supersonic speed by the right leaning pundits. Of course, Howard didn’t a vry good job stopping it. The firing of Trippi was seen as the final nail in the coffin. Hanging on until Wisconsin was just a formality, or a way to save face if you choose to look at it that way.

I can watch television again because I know what I’m going to see. There will be no surprises, just another boring race between a very vanilla Democrat and an out of touch rich man who feels the world would be better if we would just accept that most of the money rest in the hands of a few and should stay that way. During the Dean era of the race, it was like watching the Cincinnatti Bengals beat Kansas City last year. It was exciting. It was vindicating. It was inspiring. I could barely believe that a man who shared my New England values was beating everyone else. I have always said America would be better off with a Yankee in the White House, but I never thought I’d see it anywhere besides NBC and Bravo.

His values were pragmatic and compassionate, not touchy-feely or condescending as many “liberal” candidates are portrayed. He felt that the tax system was nothing more than citizens pitching together to supply the things they individually could not afford. He beieves in taxes, as do I, and was immediately pegged as a loser because many Americans do not. If you can’t afford it, fuck you. No food? Fuck you. No money for medicine? Fuck you. Compassionate my ass.

Howard Dean was also the only candidate to truly care about improving the lives of American women. Health care for all children effects both genders, but more so low-income women who must choose between caring for their children full time and keeping health benefits. Dean had plans to improve family leave benefits and reduce child abuse, plans he knew would work because he tried them. Other candidates discuss “women’s issues” as atherially as they speak of “ending racism” or “fighting for equality for real.” Well, no shit. Who is going to be openly against these things? No one. Knowing who will actually do something about it is a different issue.

So at this point we have Edwards and Kerry duking it out over who will beat Bush. Neither, I suppose. Edwards is slightly more interesting than Kerry, just because of his youth, good looks and charm. And his rookie-Senator-rises-to-the-top run for president makes a good story. Kerry bugs me, though. He is one of the Democratic leaders who during BushII’s administration has been a yotal pussy. Since when has bipartisanship meant, doing whatever the Republicans want? Now Kerry has absconded Dean’s message and has repackaged it nicely for moderate, middle-class whites. For Kerry fans, television is their after-work activity of choice and most of their judgements of other people are made quickly and are based mostly upon looks. “He just seems so, well, Presidential.”

I come to this unflattering over-generalization from observing Kerry volunteers at various NH primary events. As mentioned in the previous entry, the Kerry people were mostly blue-collar men and their wives. Whenever I was at a Kerry event, surrounded by supporters, I always felt like I didn’t belong.

I have become more aware of wanting to belong as I reach my 30’s. Not that it is the same self conscience feeling it was when I was 15, but more a wanting to see people like me where ever I go. If there are young, intelligent, artistic people (espessially female) around I feel more at home, but I also feel that the world is no longer against me and “my people.” For a moment, I can stop fighting who I really am.

But before I got off on this tanget, I wanted to discuss the snooze fest we are about to endure. What possible surprises can arrise for a Kerry-Bush race, or even an Edwards-Bush race. Either the country is sorta pissed, but feels insecure, or the country is really pissed and feels insecure enough to change things. Unfortuantely, I don’t see Americans having enough faith in themselves to get up off the couch to fight for true improvements to the country.

That was the genius behind the Dean campaign, not the internet or the grassroots effort. Those were just by-products of his message: that Americans have the power to change the direction of the country simply by working together. This was the message that gave Dean his “ultra-liberal” label, despite the fact that he was far more fiscally conservative than any of the other candidates, including the president. His signature on the civil unions bill was partly about civil rights and partly from the New England Republican ethic of staying the fuck out of your neighbors business.

Dean says in his farewell email to his web supporters, “I want an America where men and women have an opportunity to go to college, get good jobs, and maybe even start their own businesses -- regardless of their background. Where the kitchen table is a place to share dreams -- not to worry and struggle over paying the credit card bills, the mortgage, the tuition payments.” This was the motivating factor of his campaign. If you don’t like what you see, or where we’re headed, join us. He adds later in the email, in the style of a 1920 populist, “I want an America where we are more than cogs in a machine, where there is nourishment for our human souls. Where there is true community, and we recognize and affirm that we are all in this together.”

Reading this line I can see why right wing pundits peg Dean as a liberal. He has an emotional style that evokes a wimpy image from conservatives. “Eww, a man with feelings for others. How weak.” What lies deeper than his sentimental prose, however, is the right wing trend to label the belief in the power of the collective as liberal. Unions are out, these days, since they belive the theory of collective labor. Brash individualism is lauded as heroic and good for America, both economically and politically. Things like television, the internet, gated communities and industrial parks have separated us from any sense of community and have left us to fend for ourselves.

Howard Dean thought this was wrong; that at the end of the day, our family and our neighbors are all we really have. I believe this too, and that is why I voted for him. That is why I am sad he lost.

Posted at 03:47 pm by trixy99
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Jan 26, 2004
New Hampshire is Just the Beginning

On the eve of the New Hampshire Primary, I can't help but wonder why I didn't start this log earlier. I have been meeting and greeting candidates steadily for the past few months, have attended two debates and dozens of rallies. It seems to me New Hampshire residents have a particularly up close and personal view of politics in comparison to the rest of the country and I wanted to get some of it down, if not purely for myself, for the other political junkies who wonder what it's like to have candidates breathing down your neck 24-7.

I went to the debate in Manchester last Thursday. I attended part of the Kerry pre-debate reception and hung out with the Dean people for a debate watching party. Overall, the mood was upbeat. Supporters for Clark and Dean stood shoulder to shoulder with Kusinich fans, all politely debating why their guy was the best. I caught an older, pro-Clark gentleman speaking with a college-age woman adorned in dreadlocks, dancing to the rhythm of the Kusinich drum circle. He said, "I'm sorry, sweety, but I just don't think you candidate will win." She replied cheerily, "I don't care, " and continued dancing with her friends.

While most of the supporters were out in the cold, the Kerry people happily drank to their candidate in a bar up the hill from the debate. The room was filled with heavy set men wearing "Firefighters for Kerry" shirts and young suited college boys who all seemed to slightly resembled Ben Affleck. The only women present had that annoyed, disinterested look on their faces, as if they had not come on their own but were dragged in by their boyfriends. The smell of sweat and stale Budweiser gave the room that lovely frat party scent. Oh, did I mention the bag pipe band? There was a bagpipe band complete with kilts and facial hair that was fashionable around 1889. I wonder, would the rest of America be so keen on Kerry if they knew he was playing up his Irish heritage in such an obnoxious and negative way.

The Kerry folks eventually marched their candidate down the hill and into the theater, hooting and hollering. I noticed that the front of the pack was mostly firemen, then it faded into predominately male supporters and then, to my astonishment, the female supporters in the back! I wondered how this oversight could have been made, and then realized the other reporters around me were so impressed by the giant dick swinging parade that they hadn't even notice.

In the past month, the media has shown it has an even shorter attention span than the American public. I actually heard a reporter behind me Thursday night say that "the Dean story is over," as if the guy with the most money wasn't going to try to stage a comeback. As a student of journalism, it upsets me that the whole political forum had been reduced to Entertainment Tonight style snippets that are easily digestable and quickly replaced with the next "big thing." Ultimately, the New Hampshire 2004 Primary has become a sick, shooting-ourselves-in-the-foot sort of game in which people are so media savvy that they are voting for whomever Fox News will least likely destroy instead of the man they feel has the best ideas. I suppose when you dislike George Bush as much as we do up here, whomever the pundits view as most likely to beat the President this week is the man we'll vote for.

Posted at 01:26 pm by trixy99
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