Monday, November 26, 2007

Still Undecided

I have seen all the candidates in person (Edwards 7 times, Obama 6, Biden 5, Dodd 4, Richardson 4, and Clinton 3), been to the Harkin Steak Fry and the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, read the candidates positions on the important issues, and seen all the TV ads.

Most every candidate has positives that interest me. I like the fact that Edwards is pushing the important issues (Health care, Fair Trade, etc). I am impressed with Dodd's leadership on protecting the constitution and standing up against domestic wiretapping, and he is excellent on education. Biden is extremely knowledgeable on foreign policy and I like his straight forward attitude. When I see Obama and talk to his supporters, I feel that I might just be missing out the movement of my generation. Out of all the candidates, when it comes to Iraq, I agree most with Richardson.

Now consistent readers of this blog can probably tell what candidate is the flavor of the week by who I am posting the most about. However, with less than 40 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, I have yet to commit fully to one candidate.

Chris Bowers at Open Left
writes about the reasons he is still undecided. While I don't agree with everything Bowers writes, his article sums up my feelings pretty well.

At the same time, when the nomination is decided, I don't think I will lament the loss of any of the six candidates who don't win. Even leaving specific issues aside, this is because, at some fundamental level, I don't really trust any of them. Biden has always struck me as someone who talks a good game, but mostly seems to enjoy having the spotlight on himself and gets little done policy-wise for progressives. Clinton seems to vote well, but I can't shake the feeling that on many issues she has her finger in the wind, and will turn to the right as soon as it is politically advantageous to do so. Where was Dodd on these big fights before he started running for President? Edwards has changed so much over the past ten years that I have to wonder how complete or how permanent his progressive transformation is. Kucinich seems self-aggrandizing, occasionally loopy, and uninterested in doing what it takes to change a national campaign. Obama doesn't seem to actually like the activists who are supporting him, and he strikes me as more of a technocrat than a progressive. Richardson has a serious gaffe problem, and also has a real libertarian streak on things like taxes and government spending. While I can see good things coming from any of them winning the nomination and the presidency, I can just as clearly see moments when I will feel betrayed by all of them.
Bowers go on to talk about two of his favorite candidates and how these candidate fail to stack up...
While I can see arguments for why one candidate would be better, or at least less worse than others, the only candidate I have really ever felt that way about was Howard Dean. Notably, I also felt that way about Russ Feingold, and worked quietly behind the scenes to support him during much of 2005 and 2006, but he didn't run. When it comes to both Dean and Feingold, there are issues on which we disagree. However, I never had the sense that supporting them and working hard for them would make me feel used. When I have disagreed with Dean or Feingold, I never felt that it was because either was fundamentally conservative in any way, that they were elitists, that they valued power more than treating their supporters and allies decently, or that they were following a politically expedient path instead of sticking to their guns. It always felt compatible, open, and honest. It felt like they would have my back. Even when they made mistakes, they would never do so for underhanded reasons or because of bad motives. Dean even sometimes reminded me of my father, I trusted him so much.

This post is a bit confessional, but I felt a need to say it nonetheless. Yesterday, when I was removed a four-year old Howard Dean sign from the back of my brother's car, I felt there had to be a good reason, apart from just policy, that was keeping me from making up my mind in the 2008 primary campaign. I think, in the end, it comes down to a question of trust. If I am going to really put myself on the line for a candidate, I have to trust that person even when I disagree with him or her. When it comes to the current crop of Democratic candidates, I just don't trust any of them strongly enough to volunteer for them during the primary. With only a few weeks to go, it is hard for me to see that change now.
I don't see myself being undecided up until the day of the caucus. However, I am no closer to deciding who to support now than I was back in March. I guess I will just wait and see how things play out the next few weeks.


Anonymous said...

Noneed, one of my neighbors told me he may decide at the caucus, based on which group just needs a few more people to get an extra delegate.

If you really are not sold on anyone, it might make sense to wait to see where your support is most needed.

Off-topic request: I am curious to know your sense of where teachers planning to caucus are leaning. Are Richardson and Biden benefiting from their clear stance on scrapping NCLB?


Jeremie Jordan said...

Aside from Edwards and Clinton, as a conservative Republican I could live with all the other Democratic candidates. Do the nation a favor and kill the Clinton nomination during the caucuses and primaries. It's time to move on as a country. Democrats hate Bush, Republicans hate Clinton. With this election we have a chance to move past all of that divisiveness with new blood on both sides of the spectrum. Here's hoping we do.

noneed4thneed said...

I am with you on moving on past Bush/Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what, if any, value this has, but I hope Iowa will support Edwards or Dodd. I like Edwards views on trade and healthcare, and I think he understands that lack of fairness is one of the great questions of our time.

Dodd has been late to the party, but he is defending the Bill of Rights better than any other candidate.

I live in Washington, DC, so not sure if this has any interest for Iowans.

RF said...


If you truly don't want Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton, I think your only real option is Obama. Plus, don't you want to be inspired?

Sorry, had to get a plug in for my guy.