Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Into the Fray
After largely sitting on the sidelines watching the fervor surrounding the Iowa caucuses and primaries, I finally lept into the fray yesterday.

So far, I've avoided most of the debates. Largely because I'm annoyed at the media overkill this early on. Therefore, I haven't formed a strong opinion about any of the candidates either way, except for perhaps eliminating Romney and Huckabee based on their overriding evangelical Christian tendencies. I refuse to elect someone who graduated from a Bible college or was an ex-minister. Too close for comfort. Right or wrong - that's my decision.

Yesterday however, involvement was unavoidable. I started the day by hosting a Legislative Breakfast Forum for the League of Women Voters, which provided the public an opportunity to meet their new incumbent State Senators and Delegates, and get a feel for their stances and priorities for this year's General Assembly in Annapolis. We had a terrific turnout (SRO), and the delegates were all very engaged and interested in both getting their points of view across and listening (occasionally pandering) to their constituents.

By then end of the day, I was both inspired and dejected. While all of them gave heart felt lip service to wanting to promote and provide better education, health care, lower taxes, and same sex civil unions, it was clear that:

(1) The monies available for all these competing needs is like giving our legislators a gallon of paint and asking them to paint a three story building. It can't be done, and when attempted - the finished product looks like crap.
(2) Their plans for increasing the revenue base and cutting spending are unclear to say the least, and when pressed for specifics, they reverted to sin and luxury taxes as the easy way out. Did you know that slots will be the revenue base for Baltimore schools and urban renewal?

So I left with an improved impression of some of these people as people. They are good, decent folks. I just don't have a lot of faith in their ability to get anything done.

Then I came home and sat down to the four hour debate on ABC last night. First off - I have to tell you that I ADORE Charlie Gibson. Just the nicest guy on the planet.

After listening to everyone poke at each other, I came away with better feelings towards some candidates, not so much for others, but still haven't developed a clear favorite. I can tell you this however:

(1) The constant use of the words "change" and "hope" strike me as totally lame. Change HOW? Hope for WHAT? That's like Baltimore's lame slogan "Believe". Yeah - that made a HUGE difference in our crime rate now didn't it?
(2) I had thought that Bill Richardson was actually the most qualified based on his experience, and I think that's still true on paper. But that seems to be ALL he is relying on, instead of explaining what he plans to DO as President. He's off my list.

Here's what I want to hear from my candidate:

(1) That you support a woman's right to choose. Period.
(2) That you support the notion of same sex unions. You can punt this to the state level - I don't mind, but you have to be solidly for the idea in general.
(3) Healthcare reform is a top priority - starting with insurance reforms, physician reimbursement reform, and better incentives for drug companies instead of letting the foxes run the hen house.
(4) That "No Child Left Behind" needs to go away and fast.
(5) That the war was a mistake, and that we need to develop a plan for withdrawal and rebuilding Iraq. I recognize the Iraq people's responsibility to get their government up and functional, but the US didn't have a functioning government for a number of years after the Revolutionary War - takes time. And we didn't have 10,000 years of tribal ethnic and religious strife holding us back.

But most importantly, I want to hear not that these things are going to be important to you, but precisely HOW you plan on achieving them and more importantly, PAYING for them. Where's the money coming from? How are you going to fill that bucket of paint and make it deep enough for two coats of paint?

For the right plan - I'll pay more taxes. I just want my monies worth.

I also want back the 8 hours of lousy sleep I had with all the candidates jumbled in my dreams.

I finally fell into a deep sleep around 6:00 AM, and dreamt I was taking a basket of laundry to the basement. The basement was unfinished and had a cement / dirt floor, and there were these HUGE rats the size of groundhogs that started chewing on my arm - painfully.

That's when I woke up and found the cat with his teeth sunk into my arm playing with me as I flailed about under the covers.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:02 AM  
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