Friday, January 19, 2007

Musings on a Parade

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 731

By tradition, when the circus comes to town there’s usually a parade to announce the fact. Those lining the parade route get a chance to preview what will be on offer under the big top: lions, elephants, clowns, acrobats, sideshow attractions, the whole milieu. And those watching the parade can often be split into two main groups: those who will turn out to see the circus, and those who will run away to join it.

With a year to go before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, there is no mistaking that the circus is coming to town. Candidates and potential candidates started turning up in Des Moines a few months back, keeping a low profile while scrambling amongst themselves to lock up the state’s top organizing talent, part of an invisible political ritual that’s sometimes called the “talent primary.” The big dogs are now mostly committed to one candidate or another, and the serious work for the caucuses has already begun.

Publicly, of course, there isn’t much attention being paid to the next Presidential election at this point in the calendar. By and large, I think the candidates and potential candidates prefer it this way, as it allows them to move and shake away from the spotlight. The trick, of course, is to be able to summon the attention when it suits you, to seize the spotlight and hold it for yourself while leaving your fellow candidates in the darkness, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. But that comes later.

For now, the campaign is just reaching the stage where people are announcing whether they will be running or not. On the Democratic side - that is to say, my side - here’s the scorecard for those following along at home:
Sen. Evan Baye - Indiana (12/16/06)
Former Senator Tom Daschle - SD (12/2/06)
Sen. Russ Feingold - Wisconsin (11/12/06)
Fromer Virginia Governor Mark Warner (10/12/06)

In for Sure:
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (11/30/06)
Sen. Christopher Dodd - CT (1/11/07)
Former Senator Mike Gravel - AR (4/17/06)
Former Senator John Edwards – NC (12/28/06)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich - OH (12/11/06)

The Explorer’s Club:
Senator Barak Obama - IL (1/16/07)
Senator Joseph Biden- DE (1/7/07, announces he will form a committee “before the month is out.”)

Still On the Sidelines:
Sen. Hilary Clinton – NY
Gov. Bill Richardson - NM
Sen. John Kerry - MA
Former VP Al Gore
Former General Wesley Clark
Al Sharpton
Governor Brian Schweitzer - Montana
Sen. Blanche Lincoln - AR
Sen. Barbara Boxer - CA

Which brings me back to the parade. Hearing the calliope tuning up in the distance has started me wondering about what I’ll do when the circus comes to town: buy a ticket and enjoy the show, or find a way to work the big top from the inside.

First things first: there wouldn’t be much point to this writing if it were my intent to remain a spectator. So, I will be running off to join the circus. The only question is whose wagon I’ll be hitched to. And the answer is: I don’t know yet.

So, what this blog will be about is my experience in choosing and then working for a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2008 Iowa caucuses. For most local Iowa people with any inclination to participate in the nominating process, I wouldn’t expect there to be much interest. But having grown up in the vast media-driven wholesale politics market of Southern California, where candidates are never met, and rarely seen but on TV, the opportunity to take part in the nominating process at its very beginning, in the retail political market of Des Moines, Iowa, is simply too enticing to allow me to be content at watching the parade go by. Because here, in the coming months, as almost nowhere else, I can realistically expect to shake hands and spend some time chatting with them all: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Kerry (wait – already did that. Remind me to tell you that story in a later post!), John Edwards, the lot of ‘em.

And that’s the direction I think I’ll take initially: form my own version of the exploratory committee, meet the candidates (Geez, people here who are jaded about that are just spoiled rotten!), and find someone I can feel good about working for until the circus pulls up stakes and heads for New Hampshire.

I’ll do this blog with the hope that it will be of interest to other people who want to know what it’s like to be here and do this.


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