I've always found it interesting (and somewhat disturbing) how soon before an election people start campaigning. I suppose to some extent it makes sense to start a presidential campaign early, there's a lot
of work to do, and if you win it will be the crowning achievement of your political career. Of course anyone for whom that is a motivation, I would say, shouldn't be president in the first place...
The plus side is that it gives me plenty of time to familiarize myself with the potential candidates so that, some 22 months from now, I can have a well educated opinion upon which to cast my vote. Although with this crop of candidates, as always, picking a favorite is more a exercise in compromise and choosing the lesser of multiple evils.
At this ridiculous early juncture, I've actually been able to narrow it down to one candidate from each of the major parties: Giuliani and Obama.
Giuliani has pretty obvious appeal. He did great things for New York, he has a solid track record of standing his ground and taking reasoned approaches to solving problems despite political pressure, and he seems to do a pretty good job of combining the best of 'Liberal' and 'Conservative' politics into a coherent political philosophy. There's really only one area in which I don't like him. Unfortunately it's a pretty big and important area: terrorism / the war on terror. In part, I'm sure his positions are due to the political concerns of being a high profile New Yorker, but his strong support of the PATRIOT Act, and his buying in to the 'with us or against us' mentality spread by the White House in regards to terrorism don't sit well with me. In pretty much every other regards, however, I like what he has to say.
In general, I rather like Obama. My biggest issues with him are his support of the USA PATRIOT Act, his stance on gun control, and some but not all of his economic positions (minimum wage and estate tax to name a few). Other than that, he seems like a pretty decent politician. I do like his position on the Iraq war. Having initially been against it, he's now saying that, since we already went there and made a mess of it, we should at the very least stabilize the country before leaving again. Right there he's addressing my biggest criticism of the anti-war movement: that those advocating that we leave now are completely ignoring that we are responsible for the current condition of Iraq. I don't think we should have gone to Iraq in the first place, but we did and now we have to live with the consequences. It's not just Bush's fault or his cabinet's fault that we're in this mess. It's our fault for electing them twice
, and we don't get to just run away from our mistakes.
As for the other candidates, it really becomes an issue of whom will I not, under any circumstances, vote for. That list is pretty much: Clinton, McCain (used to like him, but I don't like the direction he's gone in lately), and Romney (could anyone in Massachusetts seriously vote him into another office?). Any others, I'll consider if nominated. I'm really interested to see who end up being candidates for the Libertarian nomination. I really really hope they manage to nominate someone who could become a serious contender (like Gary Nolan) rather than one of the stereotypical Libertarian raving lunatics (like Michael Badnarik) this time around.