I've been resisting making this announcement because I thought it
was too early. But well-wishers have been asking about my intentions,
my competitors are starting their campaigns, and I can't be left
behind: I will blog the 2008 New Hampshire Primary.
I started this morning. Senator Chris Dodd scheduled an event at a senior center about half a mile from my apartment in Nashua. The wind-chill was below zero and I had to walk in the street because the sidewalks hadn't been shoveled yet, but at least ice crystals were no longer blowing sideways at lethal velocities.
To be honest, Dodd didn't seem like the most exciting way to begin my campaign. I've seen him on TV, but I really don't know anything about him. And he's neither a rock star like Obama nor a major character on The Clintons, America's longest-running and highest-rated political soap opera. But at this point in the last cycle I knew even less about Howard Dean, who I voted for. So you have to listen to everybody.
But not Dodd, not today. He didn't show. The same weather that made me ten minutes late delayed his plane, so he was on to the next stop on his schedule. I could get in the car and chase him to Concord, or skip ahead to his appearance this afternoon at the Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth (always a good place to wait for a candidate). But, to tell you the truth (honesty being the hallmark of my campaign), I'm just not that into it yet. I'll catch you later, Chris. If you last that long.
Presidentially, I've had my head in the sand for a while now. I could have met Evan Bayh (remember him?) a year and a half ago. Wesley Clark, Joe Biden, and just about everybody else have already been through New Hampshire on the flimsiest of pretexts. I missed them all. I thought about seeing Obama in December when he came around pushing his book, but the fund-raiser he was doing for the NH Democratic Party sold out before I finished dithering. Until November, I was still focused on 2006, when New Hampshire tossed out its entire congressional delegation (both of them) in favor of Democrats. And since then I've been trying to figure out when the constitutional crisis will hit. (If anybody is doing a pool, put me down for August.)
But it's time. Bill Richardson is at my favorite local bookstore in Portsmouth Saturday. Kucinich is here this weekend. Hillary is doing a Democratic Party fund-raiser in March. I don't even know what the Republicans are doing; I haven't gotten on the right email lists yet, so I just read in the papers about where I should have been yesterday.
And I'm sure I'll get into it once I start. The New Hampshire Primary may not be fair to the other 49 states, but it is the coolest event in politics. That's how I started blogging. Here and Iowa are the only places in the whole campaign where ordinary people have a chance to get the candidates off their talking points. As Bush found out in 2000, you can't win here on photo ops and money. You have to come out among the people and talk about what we want to talk about, not what you want to talk about. Hillary is already discovering that; she doesn't want to say whether her vote to authorize the Iraq War was a mistake. But guess what? We'll get an answer to that question, or we'll vote her down. It's that simple.
I suppose my announcement should tell everyone what my campaign is about. First and foremost, I'm looking for a Democrat I can vote for. I intend to cover the Republicans, but more for anthropological purposes than to find a president. I want a Democrat who's excited to be a Democrat, and will tell us why we should be excited too. I want to hear sweeping principles that Democrats can keep running on for decades, not a collection of little programs that pander to 51% of the electorate. In short, I'm looking for another FDR, not another Bill Clinton.
I'm looking for someone who takes a strong position against the war. I think the invasion did a lot more harm than good, and the occupation continues to do more harm than good. Getting our troops home yesterday would not be too soon.
I'm looking for someone who believes in freedom and will roll back the tyrannical excesses of the Bush administration. No secret prisons. No lawless zone in Guantanamo. No torture. No wiretaps without warrants. No signing statements that reserve the right to disregard the law. Restore habeas corpus. Restore every American's right to a fair trial.
Finally, I'm looking for someone who has a vision of the role America can expect to play in the world economy, and of how the government can help individual Americans make their way in that economy. In the decades to come, how are we going to educate our children, find jobs, and get healthcare?
Every campaign announcement ends with a pledge. Here's mine: I pledge to put aside all the preconceptions I have about these candidates and listen to what they're saying. And I pledge to pass it on as directly and simply as I can.
And to have as much fun as possible while I'm doing it.
15 February 2007
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