Mathew Gross wants to know who you like for the #2 slot on the Kerry ticket. He remarks that:
Many Democratic strategists consider Gephardt the safest choice — a man whose life and career has been open to scrutiny for years. He is a favorite of organized labor, a disciplined campaigner and his home state, with 11 electoral votes and bellwether reputation, is critical in the White House race.
Pardon me, but this is exactly what’s wrong with our party right now. I can think of no less exciting duo than Kerry and Gephardt. While my bias towards the Dean campaign no doubt colors my own opinion on the subject, I’m not stating this out of latent spite for campaigns that tooks merciless shots at Dean in November and December.
I’ll be clear: Dean lost the race, these guys didn’t beat him. So this isn’t about Dean.
This is about speaking to the energized base — the base that feels disconnected, that has felt leaderless since President Bush’s election. Don’t forget that Gephardt was the minority leader in 2002 — a year in which we got slaughtered in the mid-term elections, thanks in no small part to the lack of opposition articulated by the party leadership. Creating a ticket of Kerry/Gephardt would simply reinforce the “Anybody but Bush” motivation of many voters instead of giving them a ticket to be excited by.
If I had to guess, I’d assume that the political calculus behind a Gephardt run is that the Demcoratic ticket can assume the support of the grassroots — those same people who supported Dean. (I can just hear them asking: “Who else would they vote for?”) This frees them up to focus on a critical swing state (like Missourri). Fair enough, but here’s the problem: if the “supporters” are only motivated to vote against Bush and not for someone, their support is weaker. They don’t feel like a part of the team, they feel like followers.
Give this party someone to be excited about. Give us someone we can look forward to — in 2008 (if, God forbid, Kerry loses) or 2012 (when Kerry’s term expires). Give us someone who can carry the mantle of the party, with a message that resonates at all levels of the party.
Give us John Edwards.