From politics to governance (no endorsement here)

Four years ago, I picked the hometown favorite for the Democratic primaries, albeit very late in the game,  long after he was all but crowned as the presumptive nominee.

I’m not endorsing anyone, nor will I for the foreseeable future. It’s my private vote. There’s little advantage in my broadcasting it (nobody reads Civilities for political insight), and much downside. I can recognize subtle partisanship in others’ writings, even my own, and when I look back it’s kind of tawdry.

That’s not to say I don’t have an opinion; I think that a Hillary Clinton administration will be more effective than the Bill Clinton administration (experience is the name we give our mistakes…); I admire the freshness of Barack Obama, and bristle at the whisper campaigns being heaped upon him. I admire John McCain for his pricipled stand for à la carte cable, having corresponded with his staff years back. As for Romney, a friend of mine was a cabinet-level director in his administration, and he did end up signing the progressive maneuver of instituting universal health insurance in the Commonwealth. I even have enjoyed watching Mike Huckabee on Meet the Press, delivering a religious sermon minus the fire and brimstone.

In the end, it’s the age-old question: do we elect the one we expect to govern effectively? Or the one who can transcend and inspire? As Yogi Berra might have said, you never know, when you think you know. It was late into an after dinner media panel at the “Media Giraffe” 2006 conference when Jay Rosen wryly observed, in response to the simmering liberal tendencies of the gathered attendance: “No single person today has motivated more people today to get politically active — than George W. Bush.”

I was one of them. I came to see the 2000 election as a personal failure on my part– my remaining a mere spectator to the democratic process. At 24 years old, I didn’t even have the initiative to drive myself across the border to the Granite State and try to shake out the four electoral votes, which in the end turned out to be as crucial as Florida’s.

I did eventually get to Florida — four years later. It capped off a year where I started exercising my political feet  fundraising, canvassing, calling, partying. I stayed more or less active by going to the 2005 and 2006 State Democratic Conventions. But my political campaign stamina peaked in the second of those– I was nominated as an alternate delegate, and ended up going back on my promise whom I’d vote for (in an essay to publish sometime). That and too many Lyndon LaRouche supporters showing up at “Drinking Liberally” events kept me from active campaigns.

These days I just go to the source. My work has transitioned to governance & compliance. I review legislation like I review code. I look for where laws are broken, find out how they could be fixed, and, most important, try to find the interest groups who would be the ones to best advocate to them fixed (see tonight’s work in unearthing why anonymous political robocalls remain legal.) I’ll be doing more of this in the weeks to come.

So I’m no longer an active campaigner. But I’m also no longer a democratic spectator — and that’s more important.