Friday, November 03, 2006

Finish Line

If you haven't noticed yet, a smudge of self-defeating pessimism has crept into the heart of blogger kingpin Markos Zuniga , just 4 days from the general election. While I can sympathize with his weariness, it seems misplaced.

I remember the final days before the Iowa caucuses in 2004, when everyone said that Howard Dean was bumbling his way to victory. As a worker for the John Edwards' campaign I was certain Edwards would end up surpassing Kerry and possibly even Dean, despite the constant stream of nay-sayers reporting the opposite throughout the state. My optimism was naive, yes, but in elections you simply have to allow your wildest dream a little oxygen. Of course, Edwards almost ended up the victor (and no doubt his showing in Iowa secured him the VP spot on the Democratic ticket), but he came up short and without a doubt this was broadly disappointing.

But specifically, for me, coming so close to winning was a thrill. It was obvious that my candidate was surging and changing people's minds about what kind of leader they wanted. I can recall the wide-eyed optimism of the caucus-goers that wandered over to Edwards' corner in the gymnasium where we workers were gathered to persuade. Many were asking me questions about John, expressing doubt about his inexperience but wanting loftier goals than what Kerry or Dean or even Gephardt were offering. When all of the Edwards folks streamed into a tiny elementary school classroom for the official count, it was a sight, like any gathering of the faithful. I am certain those individuals went on to support the eventual "Kerry-Edwards" ticket, and I am sure that like me, they still want a bigger victory.

Victory is the goal, but victory can come in many forms. You've got to dash fully across that finish line to see what form the victory will take. Markos has decided that Harold Ford, Jr. is a lost cause. Perhaps in poll-world he is. But to be so close to achieving something remarkable and then deciding to concede the moment makes no sense. Giving up before the final lap is the greatest naiveté of all.

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