I was at the Marin County Fair yesterday, and chatted with the woman at the John Kerry campaign booth for a while. As I donated a dollar and donned a button I noticed her life-sized Howard Dean cardboard cut-out in the back, and with pride she talked about how she’d never been political before in her life till nine months ago she quit her job and started working for the Dean campaign. In my case, I both voted for Dean in the primary and made my first campaign contribution ever to him — both after he’d already dropped out of the race. Unlike what you always hear on the news it wasn’t his anti-war rhetoric; as anyone who’s read here for a while knows I actually supported the idea of war with Iraq (though not the way it was implemented). It was his plain-talk pragmatism and his willingness to stand up for the American people, but most of all it was his message that we the American people can and should also stand up next to him and help carry our own burdens. This woman was a tribute to that message.

As I wore my Kerry button yesterday I mused about what I felt the campaign was missing. Kerry is competent and experienced, something I miss the most in the current administration, but doesn’t connect with me the way Edwards or Dean does. I still wore the button with pride, and I’ve even given a pretty sizable donation to the Kerry campaign already, but at least in part it was because Kerry isn’t Bush.

As of this morning, I’m feeling a lot better about the Democratic team. The Kerry/Edwards ticket fills in the message and human touch Kerry alone lacks, as well as the practical populism I’ve been missing. As for the message that we should stand up on our own, we don’t need that message to come from our candidates directly (that’s the whole point, no?). Dean continues to empower Americans through his new Democracy For America, large organizations like and smaller communities like OB4 give another focal point, and here in California Schwarzenegger has been doing a good job breathing life back into the idea that government is of, by and for the people.

I’ll be wearing my new Kerry/Edwards button with pride. More importantly, I’m once again inspired to hold their feet to the fire when it comes to the issues important to me.