Tuesday, September 21, 2004

PA in the balance

Just read Bill Gifford's piece on Slate about the intensity of the presidential race in Pennsylvania. As an out-of-place, liberal, Dauphin County deutscher, who married a Schuylkill County sweetheart from a deeply conservative Catholic family, and who now lives in the politically lukewarm Philly burbs, this piece felt like a letter from home. An apprehensive letter, perhaps, but it was still news of the places I've spent my whole life.

Kerry certainly has run a lackluster campaign to date, but those of us who are deeply disturbed by the Bush crowd's Cynical World Order can at least take heart that Kerry is still hanging in there despite the weak show to date.

For my part, I've decided that I can't sit on the sidelines anymore. Even though I'm not crazy about a couple of their ad campaigns, I've decided to pitch my lot in with the Leave No Voter Behind campaign run by MoveOnPAC. Pennsylvania is going to be a voter turnout race like no other. Despite our statistical edge in registered Democrats, we're not as organized at getting our fellow Dems to the polls.

The polls that show the race as a dead heat in PA are based on various assumptions about who the likely voters are. While I'm glad to welcome Republican crossovers or to persuade the seventeen remaining swing voters to side with the white hats, I think my time is most productively spent just making sure that registered Democrats get to the polls.

I was heartened to see the huge turnouts at the recent organizational meetings for LNVB. It's a good sign that a grassroots campaign is hitting the right chords when twice as many people show up as were registered, filling a room to overflowing. If this plan can really work at increasing Democratic turnout, it could be part of crafting a legitimate late break for Kerry in Pennsylvania. Some of those Dems that aren't showing in polls now might be there once this campaign gets rolling in the next few weeks.

So, I'm holding up my end of the bargain. Now it's Kerry's job to hold up his. I thought his appearance on Letterman was hopeful last night. It looked like an image consultant had surgically implanted a smile and raised eyebrows where that grumpy scowl had been camping out. He didn't point at the camera even once. His message was more direct, less nuanced and wishy-washy. It could still be tighter, but a gold star for today.

Maybe he really is a good closer. I'll have to hope. I don't want to live in the world that's made in the image of Bush, Inc.


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