Growing up, I was enamored by primary politics. I can remember at the age of 11 hiding behind the couch so I could see the NBC Nightly News reports on the "Super Tuesday" results, scribbling down who had won, state by state. I was hiding behind the couch as my parents had of course told me to go to bed. It was a school night after all. But to me, finding out if Al Gore had successfully pulled off his southern strategy and taken a lead against Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson was more important than catching a few more hours of sleep.
Flash forward 18 years later, and Al Gore continues to come up as a potential ascendant to the presidential throne - if it can still be called that after the last six years of nonsense from the current administration. Given how Bush's popularity is in the toilet, down at the 30% approval range, pundits and voters alike are eager for a change - anything. Polls are already being taken on who should be the candidate on the Democratic side, and whether they would fare well against a similar guessing game of Republican names. And Gore keeps coming up, even if he says he's not interested.
According to a multitude of recent polls, Hillary Clinton continues to poll the highest among registered Democrats, with John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards and a host of also-rans falling behind in line. And don't think it's too early to pick a winner. The New York Times ran a front-page piece on George W. Bush's candidacy for the Republican nomination before a single ballot had been cast in Iowa or New Hampshire in 2000. On the Republican side, it's widely expected that John McCain will make a successful run, with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani also being named.
What's different this time around, according to just about everybody, is the ascendency of Internet-based politicking, whether the focus is on issues or fund-raising. It's believed that waiting around for huge donations of soft money from large donors isn't the answer any longer, and he or she who operates the most well-honed Web strategy is going to take the prize. This is well chronicled in "Crashing the Gate", and this week, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek comes to the same conclusions in a piece titled, "A New Open-Source Politics". I believe its one thing to harness the energy of the Internet, and quite another to expect that the Netroots are going to act as efficient replacements for the ATM. If one candidate asks for supporters to pony up the dough too many times, whatever advantage they once had will be gone - as they change from presidential candidate to spam candidate - to be filtered as junk.
For me, the biggest disappointment about 2008 projections is a name that is missing. Howard Dean seems to be the strongest on the issues, and aligns with my preferences in a very clear way. While he is doing outstanding work as the chairman for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), I had wished he would give it another run at the chief executive position. In 2004, he had already withdrawn his name as a candidate by the time we in California had the opportunity to vote, and in the back of my head, I wish we had another shot at it. We don't need another repeat of John Kerry, and Hillary, although formidable, simply can't expect to overcome the hatred of the shallow South. It should be an interesting few years.
Listening to ''Inner Depth'', by Jerry Bonham (Play Count: 3)