Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The New Hampshire Primary.

A few weeks ago I was in the Boston area for work with very little else to do. I got an email from the Dean campaign reminding me to attend the December Meetup that Wednesday. Since I was very close to the New Hampshire border, I thought I'd go to a meetup there and find out what NH for Dean people were talking about. So I drove up to Manchester to attend a meetup at a bar there.

It was very interesting, and I the mood there reflects the mood of the campaign throughout the country. I asked a man in his late 30s/early 40s, who was wearing a LGBT for Dean pin, his feelings about the campaign. He didn't go into a diatribe against Bush or any of the other Democratic candidates. He said (paraphrase from memory), "I think Dean is trying to recreate a sense of community in this country that has been lost. I think he sees that, in Vermont, you still have that sense, but it doesn't exist in many other parts of the country. This campaign is giving people that sense again."

I think this is the main thing that people who react negatively to Dean miss: it's not about Bush-hatred; it's not about taking this country down some birkenstock and hookah-filled ride to the Left; it's about coming together and standing up for ourselves. This is why Dean supporters gloss over the candidate's weaknesses. We Dean supporters feel that we are apart of something, and that is as important as any single position on an issue. To be sure, a lot of the campaign is about tacking opposite "Washington," but that's more because we feel "Washington" has too much invested in the status quo (meaning the status quo in general and the status quo in the Democratic Party power structure).

Anyway, this meetup was attended by senior citizens, gays, college students, teachers, and others. And the common thread among everyone was the desire to join the community, to have a sense of ownership about the direction this country is headed. In a way, the Dean campaign is doing more to bring about David Brooks' "ownership society" than stock ownership every will. And that's important, and that's a big reason why Dean has such intense support.

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