The at-home primary

The at-home primary
: Fred Wilson wasn’t sure whether he supported Dean or Clark. So he invited Clark — and 70 close friends — over to his house. How does it feel to be Iowa, Fred?

Now Fred is backing Clark.

When Clark announced, I had hopes for him. But those hopes keep getting dashed.

I’m appalled by his promise to sign a Consitutional amendment banning flag burning. During Vietnam, authorities in New York started arresting people for displaying the peace-sign-American-flag button. My father — a staunch Republican, a veteran, a proud patriot — was so incensed at this violation of Constitutional rights of free speech that he asked me to give him one of my buttons and he wore it with defiance: Arrest me! I was so proud of him for that. I’m not proud of Clark’s stand. It’s Constitutionally naive and dangerous. It’s pandering that will get him nowhere.

I’m quite unimpressed with his “plan” for Iraq: pull the hell out and hand it over to Iraq now, with minor help. That is downright irresponsible. We have a moral duty to help the Iraqi people build a strong democracy and economy. Pulling out, Vietnam-like, won’t do that. This, too, is pandering.

And as a test of leadership ability, thinking on his feet, and just being smart, Clark failed bigtime with his waffling on whether he would or would not have signed the Iraq resolution.

Fred: Can you have a few other candidates over for coffee?

: Fred answers me and I answer him in his comments. I won’t get into the specifics of our back-and-forth here; go give him the page views.

But I do want to repeat this:

Damn, this is fun. It’s practically making politics engaging again.

Thanks to this crazy medium, I’m only a degree of separation away from a man who would be President.

When I covered the New Hampshire primary, lo, many years ago, I got close; I asked them questions and shook their hands and reported what they said. But I did not to get into a discussion of issues. Here, I’m playing issue tennis with the guy who is influential enough to have Wes over to his place. You can, too. Smaller circles. More substance. More influence. For more people.

There’s something important going on in this campaign that we haven’t been able to grok yet. We’ve all noted it: the Dean blog; the Dean comment community; the catch-up candidates’ blogs; Meet-up; voters’ blogs….

This, I believe, could be the rebirth of true bottom-up politics.

What the BBC is doing (see the iCan post above) and what news sites do when they create what they call “interactive” games that let you push buttons and act as if you’re in power (see the post below) are still top-down: The powerful let you play as if power were a toy.

Real power is about being heard by power. Real power is about having real influence. And one way or another, a bit at a time, real people can gain real power here. I even think there’s a business in this.

It’s way, way too soon to know whether it’s really working. But I smell the barely budding flower of change.

: Note, separately, that Andrew Sullivan supports Wesley Clark over George Bush on the matter of government and God.