Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

February 1, 2004

by J


Some of us are beginning to wonder why we should even bother. Snippets from a recent rant found elsewhere:
I really honestly am starting to think that if might be time to let the country go to hell to teach people what it means for a country to go to hell -- so that they'll stop worrying so much about Bennifer and who gets voted off the island and start actually respecting intellect and being informed. It's like when your 4 year old runs down the stairs, and you keep telling them, "You're going to trip and fall and get hurt if you don't stop doing that ... "

They keep doing it. So sooner or later, you realize that the best thing to do is to let them trip and fall. They won't do it again.

I mean really -- at this point, it appears that we have the following choice: we can support the guy who created a false war and "No Child Left Behind," or a guy who voted for both. It's starting to look as if we are going to choose between Dubya or Dubya's ideological catamite. I'm just honestly not seeing a lot of difference here.

Either way, the war will continue. DOMA will be pushed forward. NCLB will keep on going, gutting our public education and raising yet another generation of ill-informed voters incapable of rational thought and contemptuous of education, a dangerous tragedy in a democracy. The "Patriot" act will be allowed to stand -- and this country will continue on a slow slide to hell. Kerry will do it at 90mph, and Bush at 120mph. I'm not seeing a real difference, here. I mean, I'm honestly not.

I think it might be time to let everyone trip down the stairs. If we wise up, we deserve to survive. If not, we deserve to fall by the wayside and let the EU pick up the slack.

Bush, or Bush's catamite. That's it. That's what it's looking like we've got. I simply refuse to play this goddamned sad game anymore. I'm sick of being jerked around. I'm sick of being enlisted in this nonsense and forced to participate in it.

I'm sick of wanting to implement change and getting laughed at for it when I get furious with Kerry for the push-polling and robo-calling, and being told, "That's the way the game is played, honey." Then, when I express a desire to wash my hands of the whole sorry mess, those same people who spat on my idealism now appeal to it and blink their big doe eyes at me and say, "Well, how can you say thaaaaat? Don't you caaaaaaare?"
[To the author: let me know which if any link to use. :) ]
Posted by J at February 1, 2004 06:27 PM

Although I have that same fantasy, I'm dreading the moment when millions of four year olds land on top of the rest of us standing at the bottom of the stairs.

Posted by: JPoirier at February 2, 2004 03:18 AM

Exactly. My uncle tried to tell me I had to vote for whoever the Dem is because we can't have four more years of this hell. Sorry, I'm doing all I can to get my guy on the ticket instead, and I refuse to vote for Kerry no matter what. Not doing it. I will not vote out of fear again. It's Dean, or it's Libertarian. I am not responsible for the idiocy of the bulk of the electorate.

Posted by: fish at February 2, 2004 12:09 PM

Doesn't anybody else find comments like this -- like what we see from 'fish' -- frustrating? "It's my guy or nobody?" Really? "I won't vote out of fear?" Hey, I'm not ashamed at all to admit I'm scared of four more years of intimidation and the eroding of my rights (for starters). And casting a Libertarian (or Green or whatever) vote doesn't absolve you of responsibility.
We're right back where we started. "Al Gore and George W. Bush are exactly alike". Didn't we learn that this was never true. I thought the frustration we all felt was that the last four years had proved that a vote for Nader was, in fact, folly. That supporting Democrats -- even if they were moderate or conservative -- did, in fact, make a difference. That perhaps, if you didn't like the leading Democrat, it might inspire you to do that much more for your guy (or gal). But no, we're back to sour grapes politics, which only ensures that the "idiot electorate," susceptible to the right-wing hack journalism of Fox (not to mention a $100 million dollar campaign treasury) will again elect George W. Bush.
Look, This is a time not to get grumpy that our guy is behind -- it's the time to work that much harder for him, frankly. I think Dean's got a GREAT shot at the nomination. And it's my firm belief that this sort of nonsense does him a real disservice. Let's get him the nomination. Then let's get Bush out of office, no matter what.

Posted by: Benjamin at February 2, 2004 06:36 PM

Benjamin -- I've been ABB since before I heard Howard Dean's name, indeed, since December 2000. If Kerry (god forbid) gets the nomination, I will push the little Diebold button next to his name (fat lot of good it will do, but I will.)

However, it seems that the Democrats refuse to learn the lessons that disaffected Greens and independents tried to bestow in 2000. I can't blame people like the person I quoted and fish for deciding that their participation just isn't going to matter. I can't tell you how many times in various fora I've been told by Democrats to "Go away" and "we don't want you then." Me, a suburban independent with some disposable income and inclination to support Democrats. 'True' Democrats (from spokespeople Carville and Begala on down) have basically told me to piss off. You tell people to piss off often enough, and eventually they'll believe you and, you know, piss off.

So, while I was angry with the Greens in 2000, after watching the Democratic party closely for the past many months, I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to be angry with third-party or non-voters this time around.

In the words of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, "Please, give me something to sing about."

I don't feel much like singing right now.

Posted by: J at February 2, 2004 07:59 PM

I didn't say my guy or the highway. I said the only reason I am considering voting Democrat in the first place is because of Howard Dean, and if he isn't on the ticket I am not planning to vote Democrat. I am still voting, and I will be voting for the candidate with whom I most identify. If one of the other (non-Kerry) candidates makes it instead, I'll do some research and make a decision then.

I am NOT a standard Democrat. I am an independent voter, and I make up my own mind. I just got back from Washington Dean HQ, and I will be back there tomorrow, and I will be at the event Wednesday morning. I'm mailing my family who are ABB voters and telling them why Kerry isn't maybe the best choice to beat the incumbent. I think Dean still has a great shot at getting the nomination and I am doing everything I can to make it happen.

I am sorry if it offends you that I will not be intimidated by the spectre of four more years of this mess. It will truly suck for all of us if the incumbent wins another term, I know that, and maybe it's selfish of me to not want to vote for a man I think is a liar and a cheater who ducks every time a controversial issue comes up. But I am going to vote for a candidate whom I can believe in, whatever party he or she happens to be. I believe in voting for what I think is right, not what is expedient or least bad. I want to vote for what I believe is right and good, and that's what I'm going to do.

In the meantime, I am working my patootie off for Dean and I am caucusing this weekend, with as many people as I can convince to come with me.

Posted by: fish at February 2, 2004 11:33 PM

I forgot to say, thank you J. That's pretty much it. I didn't vote Nader in 2000 either. I wanted to vote for Harry Brown (libertarian), but I didn't.

One last thought: If I continue to settle for what I am offered, instead of holding out for and working towards what I truly want, then I will never get anything better. And I have finally made up my mind that most of 20 years of voting for the lesser of two evils or the least damaging option is enough. I want something better.

Posted by: fish again at February 3, 2004 12:13 AM

Voting for the lesser of two evils is sickening to me at this point, literally. And I know why the major parties do this -- it's precisely to keep the majority of the population FROM voting. Think about it -- if you want to control an election to the best of your ability and you have 100 people voting, it would be in your best interest to get 90 of them to stay home and stay away, that way you only have to work on ten people.

So it seems as if I can either stay home, just like the party wants me to, or else vote for their anointed taxidermist's product, just like they want me to. Either way, I'm merely doing what I've been manipulated to do. At that rate, why not just pick whichever action keeps me from puking?

It won't keep the country from sliding to the right and continuing along its slow slide to fascist destruction to vote for Kerry. All it'll do is delay it for a while -- and not very long, either. Slides like this usually wind up exponential after a certain point, which means we will buy ourselves about fifteen or twenty minutes of life by voting for the Democratic puppet.

Posted by: Janis at February 3, 2004 01:36 AM

If Kerry gets the nod we will have plenty of time to have this argument, but I disagree with many of you. The time for purity of heart and support of the most ideal candidate is now, with our money and time and energy.

If our guy doesn't get the nomination, in November it will be time for recognition of practical realities, namely that all the hundreds of appointments a President gets to make that don't make the headlines but affect people's lives should NOT have Republicans in them again for the next 4 years.

Kerry might well appoint some of the same people Dean would have, or at the least he won't be appointing cracked theologians like John Ashcroft.

The other argument that I find persuasive is that gridlock is, in practice, much better than one-party rule.

But as I said, if it comes to this, we will have plenty of time to have this argument.

Posted by: V at February 3, 2004 08:09 AM

You're right to a large degree, J, that most of us Democrats do something that I really -- really -- hate: say we want a free and open primary with representation across the board, of all stripes, and then work like dogs to get behind whoever the establishment favorite might be. Doesn't work that way with the GOP by the way, I assure you. From that perspective, it's not only a very real frustration for independents like you, but for staunch Democrats like me (not to mention it's just obviously "bad for business").
(ASIDE: I believe it about Begala, to a degree, but is Carville really acting crazy? Crazier than usual? I have to say, it's not that I don't believe you, it's that this doesn't sound like Carville to me...)

I don't like John Kerry any more than any of the rest of you. And when the primary comes to Virginia (Feb 10th, I think...), I sure won't be voting for Kerry, no matter what happens today (Feb 3rd).

V has it exactly right (and said it much better than I could've). It's time for the Dean people to get up off the mat and do what they do best. But if by some chance he doesn't get the nomination, I will work very hard to get GWB out of office. I believe my country deserves that.

Posted by: Benjamin at February 3, 2004 09:07 AM

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