I did get a handy dandy pamphlet summarizing his issues. Most of them are pretty straight party liners, though "backed up" with the constant reminder that he is a doctor and has thought these issues through. Which is one of my wonderings, for the "grassroots" candidate, he's trying to come off as very erudite, and Clinton-like in his ability to change his mind on an issue. Sure, I understand that this is a good idea, but frankly much of the masses just sees this as indecisive.
I also learned a few things about Kerry in a backhanded way (read: through the hissing). He's taking a very strong pro-military stance to separate himself from the other Democratic nominees, and as a way to poke at GWB. This is something that does not sit well with traditional democrats (which is what the room tonight was strongly composed of), obviously, and it's probably why he's losing in the nominations process. That wasn't very savvy of him, to be frank... yes, he'll need that to win the Middle America, but they're not nominating him yet -- gotta get through this part and keep your middle class liberal democrats first. :)
Ah well, in short, the Democratic Party is just as much a mess as the Republican one; mostly because the country is just so willing to place all faith in the presidency, yet at the same time they think all politicians are crooked and thus little indiscretions are to be expected. So both parties must cater to the public, and the public's foibles. But through the eyes of the Dean cult, he is talking straight, he is talking honest, and he is trying to be a leader, not just play one on TV. And unfortunately, because of the public's foibles, this might very well lose him the campaign.... which I really don't want to see -- he's the leading Dem candidate, which might make him all we got to get GWB out.
And please note that most of my poking fun here is the meetup itself, not the Dean platform. I'm still looking into that.... But things I like so far:
1) His position on guns rights is "give this issue to the localities". For a Democrat, this is about as pro-gun as you can get, really, and it's something I can really agree with.
2) He is pro-choice. Ok, party liner here.
3) He is fiscally conservative. You've read about this in the news, I'm sure; if not, why are you still reading my screed?
4) He is for universal healthcare. Yes, I know this is decidedly unRepublican of me, but in recent years I've really come to understand how much not having health care for everyone in this country means... and how much having it in other countries means.
5) He plans to oppose expansion of the PATRIOT Act, and try to repeal the unconstitutional portions.
6) On more than just the gun policy, he returns to the idea of giving the issues back to the individual localities, states or cities. Yay decentralization! It's one of the big reasons I became Republican, and yes I'm finding irony in going to the Democrats now to find it.
7) He is a grassroots candidate, one who's come out of the woodwork and supported mostly by the community that's sprung up over the internet and by word of mouth. There's not even a Pittsburgh office right now. Punk Rawk.
Things I don't like:
1) His foreign policy is very very vague. A president is primarily a foreign policy position, IMO, and I like to see what that means to presidential hopefuls. OTOH, what little I can get through the vagueness, it seems he wants to concentrate more on the home front, bring back a stronger force here. Yes, please. Though, he also vaguely hints at "bringing up the middle class in other countries", which is hauntingly echoing the WTO principles -- always a dangerous thing to get involved in.
I need to learn more on this front. Obviously I'm not one of the folks who think we need a strong foreign policy person TO FIGHT TERRORISM... but we do have a *lot* of tricky cleaning up to do to make amends with our allies. And that will require someone strong on foreign policy.
2) One of the pamphlets I was given said, "look around you at the diversity of those who support Dean." I did. I saw a lot of aging middle class liberals, erudite or pseudo-erudite, the type who've been die-hard democrats since birth. Ok, problem. I mean, perhaps it was the location I was at (Shadyside, a wealthy part of town)... but my cynical side suggests that this is more representative than it should be. Furthermore, a lot of the talk was one of distinct displeasure with the democratic party. So... Dead is the anti-Democrat Democrat candidate? Again, I suspect this is more representative than it should be.
Now, why does this bother me? I mean, it's not an issue of whether Dean himself could be a good leader. Overall, it seems like he really could be. But as I hinted above... I'm looking at the democrats to see if they can win. GWB is dangerous, and the democrats are our chance to redeem ourselves right now (yes, I did just type that). If Dean can't win, he shouldn't be nominated. Period.
I'm really bummed out that my thought of Kerry/Dean ticket got shot down pretty solidly when someone (not on LJ) pointed out that they're both New England rich folk -- good point, means that's not a ticket that can win after all. But dammit, those are the personalities that would pull it through. Alas.
On the other hand, they did point out that Wes Clark just became a democrat today, and is looking to perhaps join the nominations. A discussion over coffee at EnP later pointed out that while the democratic nomination ballot is beginning to look like the Recall Election for California (beginning, not actually look like yet) .. there really are only two or three contenders for it at this time. Everyone else is looking for the VP stand... and if Wes Clark joins now, he's looking for Dean/Clark. He's military, he's from the south, and he's pretty damn conservative. AND, he has a very strong idea for foreign policy.
Hmmm... actually... that just might well be the winning combo I can sink my teeth into.
And finishing with a short, amusing anecdote: I did mention I am a Republican during the public discussion.. so after the public part was done and we were all having discussions amongst ourselves, someone while talking to me made the mistake of mentioning my "conservative" bent. "Actually, I'm not conservative, I'm a liberal Republican." I got a very surprised look returned at me.
Yes, I do separate "liberal/conservative" from "democrat/republican", thank you. :)