Democrats are turning out in droves not because of personalities, but because of purpose. And that purpose includes some important social issues largely ignored by Republicans in power and by Democrats in Congress.
Read me right: this is not an endorsement of Hillary, but an endorsement of a seachange in the American electorate in a fired up progressivism. Hillary overcame a double-digit-Obama-lead and conventional wisdom in both the mainstream media and the "alternative" blogosphere (even locally) that Obama would cruise. His campaign was caught looking past New Hampshire to South Carolina and his "viability" with African-American voters; and New Hampshire Democrats, both young and old stepped in and let the Party and the political wonks know that it should not take them for granted.
At the end of the night, the Democratic race is just about where it needs to be: Obama is young and should have to face sterner trials than coasting in Iowa if he wants my vote (a lack of experience equals a longer row to hoe); Hillary--in her own words during a speech tonight just as remarkable as Obama's last week--listened to others and in so doing discovered her own voice and perhaps more of her human side, which might make her a candidate worthy of my vote; and if a fading Edwards can somehow manage to come back from seeming oblivion, then he may just deserve my vote. A horse race is what this should come down to, and I feel much better with my choices now going into our primaries in February than I did after Iowa.
Thank you, New Hampshire, for keeping us honest.
UPDATE: Like I was saying:
It is important that the Democrats have a bruising, tough, no holds barred contest. Get all of the dirt and problems on the table now. If not, let there be no doubt, the Republicans will be more than happy to dredge up every piece of trash they can throw at folks. Obama has not yet been truly tested. Let him be tested now. Hillary and John have been through the battle. They are proven vets. No surprises come September for them. We cannot honestly say that about Obama.
This is not a slam of Obama. I am seriously worried about the stars in the eyes of Obama acolytes. We can't afford to give him a pass just because he is an inspiring symbol.
UPDATE: Just discovered that Enclave got linked over at the Wall Street Journal. Here's a screen shot of the end of WSJ reporter Laura Meckler's story on the New Hampshire results: