I’m probably taking far too much credit for this, but it’s fun to believe that my comments make a difference.
I live near Boston, home of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. (Yes, of course, take over my city, please!) My rant on how they could hold this convention in the capital of one of the Union’s most consistently liberal states and somehow manage to piss off almost everyone who lives here will be left for another day; today is for celebrating the triumph of one small voice in the halls of power.
(Seriously, I’m so full of myself.)
In the last few weeks, the DNC has had campaign workers all around Boston and surrounding towns recruiting voter support. Their initial call to action: “Want to help defeat George Bush?” This slogan has vied with those with bumper stickers about “re-defeating Bush” (whatever – quit yer whinin’, ya crybabies) as my most hated thing about the Dems mindset in this campaign – not to mention the least productive, in my opinion.
As I noted in a strongly-worded message to the DNC, posted through the comments feature of their website, the defeat-Bush push does nothing to help me get excited about voting for Kerry. If the best thing that his own party can say about the guy is who he’s not, then I think they ought to be a little concerned. I know of a lof of people who aren’t George Bush, but that doesn’t necessarily make me want them as President, either; despite my more conservative leanings, I would love it if one of these campaign workers could explain to me why I should vote for John Kerry, not against someone else. The “We Hate Bush” slogans just focus my attention on how I feel about GW, and leave me wondering whether Kerry has any identity at all.
And this is the crux of the Democrats’ problem, both in 2000 and 2004. If you can’t field a candidate with enough discernible appeal to rouse voters from their apathy and to his (or her) side, expect that you’ll have just as successful an election as we did last time, where Democratic hopes were hung on a few thousand people who couldn’t even figure out how to cast a ballot. The problem is not that some right-wing bought-off Supreme Court conspiracy tresspassed all over the separation of powers – it’s that the election was so close that it had to go to the Supreme Court at all, because American voters were so meh about the two options that they basically coin-tossed it to see who would win. (By the way, these outraged Democrats wouldn’t be complaining about separation of powers if the decision had been in their favor … so just accept that you lost and move on to finding better people to represent your party.)
I have a better sense of what Kerry’s running mate stands for than what he stands for; why is that? Why don’t I understand Kerry’s personality and stand on the issues? Why, when I ask other people who are more left-leaning, can’t they tell me either? Why hasn’t the DNC worked much harder to show me that he believes in something, represents something, has a viewpoint, has some passions? I may not like John Edwards’ populist focus, but I appreciate that I’m aware of it; and as for Bush, although I think he’s probably not up to the job and surrounded by bad counselors, I know that he has an opinion about how the world should be and is trying to do something to make it into what he feels is better. I can respect that, even when I don’t like what he ends up doing.
Which is the long way ’round to my point – this afternoon, when walking by some campaign workers, what do I hear?
“Want to come help us elect John Kerry?”
It might seem trivial and purely semantic, but it’s the first sign I’ve had in weeks that there might be something about Kerry that’s worth knowing. And I’m encourged to think that the DNC powers-that-be are listening to us little people, the voters.
Tomorrow, I might even stop and ask them some questions.