I went to my first Kerry meetup last night. The turnout was pretty good (about 50 people in one of SIX meetups in the Portland area). There was a considerable number of Dean people there as well. In fact, some of them were running the meetup.
Two things struck me during the meetup. The Dean meetups were generally heavy on younger people and a healthy sample of senior citizens. The Kerry meetup had a much larger number of people in the 40-50 age group but not many younger people (excepting said Deanizens).
The other thing that struck me was the video that they showed at the meetup. It was a video that focused almost exclusively on Kerry's time in Vietnam and his time in Vietnam Veterans Against The War. What struck me about the video was that the clips of Kerry back in the early 70s were the first time I have ever found myself responding viscerally to the man. Yet it was the Kerry of 30 years ago, not the Kerry of today, that was making the sale for me!
I have talked before about how Kerry just doesn't do it for me as a candidate. But the Kerry in those old clips really spoke to me. I also suspect that that Kerry will speak well to those Americans who are concerned about our national security.
Which means that this race could come down to running strong with the 1970s Kerry instead of the 2004 Kerry.
Publius of Legal Fiction also has some comments on a related matter: the mistaken belief that a presidential election comes down to a choice between two individuals.
The belief that a presidential election is a choice between two individuals is probably the biggest fallacy in American politics. What you are actually voting for is an entire Executive branch of government, along with the judges or Justices it appoints. Unfortunately, too many people conceptualize the presidential election as a one-on-one contest between individuals, rather than between two potential Executive branches. When you think about it, reducing everything to an individual level is actually a common cognitive error in American thought. For example, terrorism is not a systematic phenomenon, but something caused by Osama (and which can be fixed by killing Osama) – which is the wrong way to think about it. Or, people think that capturing al-Sadr will end the uprising, which is an equally wrong way to understand the situation. Similarly, I think it’s somewhat irrational to base your vote primarily upon a candidate’s personal characteristics – which of course is always the main focus of our media (i.e., the way they look, or smirk, or talk).