As we begin the post-Labor Day marathon race to the 2004 presidential election, Salon is curious to know how its readers are sizing up the field of candidates. Who do you love or loathe? Who has the best chance of taking the White House? Here’s a chance to go beyond the cut-and-dried answers to telephone pollsters. Tell us in your own words how you feel about the candidates for the highest office in the land.
We start today with a letter from a reader in Maryland, responding to Joan Walsh’s recent story on Howard Dean.
Well, I’m going to subscribe to Salon today, mostly because of your column about Gov. Dean. It hit the journalistic bullseye.
You describe an experience and a weighing of values that parallels my own — and thousands like me. I am a 63-year-old white guy, Stanford-educated, military veteran (where I showed up for duty every day), veteran of Howard University and the riots in D.C. in 1968, a husband-father, a small-business owner, an environmental conservationist, a mixture of Independent Jeffordite, Libertarian, Green and Democrat. After years in the political wilderness, a hold-my-nose-for-Clinton voter and contributor who felt betrayed by his narcissistic betrayals, choking on my own emotional rage about the unanswered rape from the right and its Shrub, I started to look at MoveOn this March — a fresh-air experience. As you probably know, MoveOn sponsored an early “vote” on Democratic candidates and I read all the dialogues and candidate statements and found Dean. I voted for Kerry in the straw because I too was ready to bypass Dean as unelectable (Dean was second to Kucinich), but Dean’s words were so compelling on DeanforAmerica that I went to a Dean MeetUp with my wife who predicted we’d be among teenie granolas, but found ourselves among an amazing, value-hungry, angry, polite, articulate, curious, slice of 75 people in a Maryland suburban storefront. From there I began to encourage my friends to take a look, to collect more information, attend the 4,500 person rally in Falls Church, Va. — home of Ollie North — on a hot Saturday afternoon in late August. I now plan to cut my consulting work to near zero and to work for Dean beginning this September.
I don’t agree with everything Gov. Dean says or will say; he wouldn’t be electable if I did! But, and this is so critical, he is his own man, he has a moral center, he will tell the truth as he sees it, he will inspire community rather than division. I know all too well what he will face from the right, within his own party and from the Republican vipers. Every once in a while he will get the sort of journalism reflected in your column — and that is enough.
Chevy Chase, Md.