Making Change

The verdict from the first two states in the Democratic nominating process is in: Barack Obama is for real; Hillary Clinton is not inevitable but won't give up; and John Edwards is the progressive populist in the race.

Now that the Democratic presidential race has practically narrowed to those three candidates, Edwards remains the progressive populist choice for change. Many progressive voters would be proud to vote for a black candidate or a female candidate with a solid chance to occupy the Oval Office, but while Obama and Clinton have been occupying the middle of the road, Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who comes from a working-class background and made his bones as a trial lawyer challenging reckless and abusive corporations, has been challenging the status quo. Although he has been derided by some for his wealth, he made his fortune by winning verdicts for his working-class clients who were injured by those corporations that are unregulated by the Republicans and lightly regulated by the D.C. Dems.

Obama's credibility was established in Iowa when his organization turned out a stunning and broad-based plurality of support. Edwards and Clinton actually did a pretty good job of turning out their own supporters in the Tall Corn State but Obama brought out not only his share of party hacks who usually run the caucuses but also lured a large number of newcomers who were willing to put up with the arcane caucus rituals. Obama did well not only in the few cities where Iowa's limited supply of black voters mainly reside; he also carried counties in rural northwest Iowa (including our home base of Buena Vista County) and eight of the 10 Mississippi River counties, some of which have a history of antipathy towards blacks.

Some Obama supporters may have been Republicans wishing to promote a Democrat who they believed they might be able to beat in the fall. If so, they'd better be careful what they wish for. Because Obama has been drawing thousands of young people and independent voters as well as disaffected and/or crafty Republicans. Entry polls in Iowa showed that only 3% of Democratic caucus participants were Republicans (Obama claimed 44% of them) while 76% were Dems (Obama got 32%) and 20% were indies (Obama got 41%). Of the 6% who were self-identified conservatives, Edwards got the most support, with 42%. Of young caucusgoers (17-29 years), 74% self-identified as Democrats and 73% self-identified is liberals. Those newcomers are learning about the nitty gritty of the political process, getting a taste for organizing and fieldwork and God only knows what impact they will have on the Democratic Party and progressive politics for years to come.

Add the fact that the GOP is stumbling over a weak field -- one that is afraid to distance itself from the worst presidential administration in the nation's history -- and this looks like as good a year as any for the Democrats to take a chance on nominating a smart, charismatic, progressive black man for president -- if the Dems aren't going to nominate a smart, charismatic, progressive populist trial lawyer for president. Or a smart, capable, moderately progressive former First Lady.

Clinton found her voice and got back in the race with a come-from-behind victory in New Hampshire on Jan. 8 but Obama's strong showing keeps him in good position heading into  primaries in Nevada Jan. 19, South Carolina Jan. 26, Florida Jan. 29 (not approved by the Democratic National Committee) and "Super Tuesday" on Feb. 5. That's when 22 states will select 50.9% of the delegates to the national convention.

We hope, probably in vain, that there will still be a contest by the time the Texas primary comes around on March 4. But by then 70% of the delegates already will have been selected.

Even before the New Hampshire primary, Obama had overtaken Clinton in South Carolina polls, going from 2 points behind Clinton in December to a 20-point lead in a SurveyUSA poll conducted Jan. 4-6 and showing a 12-point lead in a Rasmussen poll conducted Jan. 6 after being tied at 33% Dec. 16.

SurveyUSA noted across-the-board movement in South Carolina away from Clinton to Obama. Among voters who made up their mind after the Iowa caucuses, Obama led Clinton 63% to 13%. But Obama was leading in New Hampshire polls by an average of 8 points the day before that primary, when Clinton turned things around. Turns out polls don't determine delegates.

Democrats should be under no illusions about the obstacles to the election of a black president. We already have received emails claiming that Obama is a closet Muslim, despite his secular upbringing and his 20-plus-years membership in Chicago's Trinity Church of Christ. Republicans are fond of calling him by his full name -- Barack Hussein Obama (he was named after his father), as if that signifies sympathy with Islamic fundamentalism. Right-wingers at Insight Magazine and Fox News last year advanced the canard that Obama attended a Muslim school when he was a youngster in Indonesia. (CNN found that he actually attended Catholic and public schools in Indonesia before his mother returned to Hawaii.)

But Republicans are prepared to slander whoever ends up with the nomination, be it Obama, Clinton or Edwards. We just hope the race lasts long enough to thoroughly test the eventual nominee. If there is muck to be raked about the Democratic frontrunners, we'd rather see the Democrats slinging it in February so it can be settled now rather than wait for Republicans to stir it up it in October.

Edwards has all the right enemies, including the corporate media, which is why he got little credit for beating the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, in Iowa. Meanwhile, Obama got full credit for bringing young and independent voters to the caucuses. He is an appealing candidate with progressive instincts but for all his rhetoric about change we don't hear him taking on the vested interests that control both the major parties the way Edwards has.

Edwards has described the choice facing the country as "the establishment elites versus the American people." He points out that the system is "controlled by big corporations, the lobbyists they hire to protect their bottom line and the politicians who curry their favor and carry their water. And it's perpetuated by a media that too often fawns over the establishment, but fails to seriously cover the challenges we face or the solutions being proposed."

Edwards is the candidate speaking truth to power. His populist voice is needed in the campaign, even if the corporate media won't cut a break for the man Jim Cramer calls Wall Street's "Public Enemy No. 1."

Don't wait for November to complain about the lack of choices. Do something now by supporting John Edwards.

See the entire editorial at The Progressive Populist

Tags: Democratic Presidential Candidates, Democratic Primary (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

Did he

Did Jim Cramer really say that? If so give me the link so that I can pass it around.

This is exactly why John Edwards says what he says!

http://johnedwards.com

by kevin22262 2008-01-14 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Did he

Cramer said it on Hardball with Chris Matthews in June 2007.  Matthews asks Cramer about how the economy will affect the presidential race, and Cramer calls Edwards "public enemy number one." Cramer then goes on to tell everyone how great Mitt Romney would be. The clip used to be on Youtube but may have been taken off.  You can find the page with the video disabled but comments on what Cramer said at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99BDVzU7p xA

by jcullen 2008-01-15 11:06AM | 0 recs
Excellent

Excellent diary.  I should have said that first.

by kevin22262 2008-01-14 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Making Change

I hate the phrase "make change."

Everytime Clinton said it in Iowa I cringed.

I felt like she and the rest were interviewing for a job at 7/11 or at a bank.

by dpANDREWS 2008-01-14 01:45PM | 0 recs
Could be an SNL skit

The candidates at their podiums, a Russert look a like poised to grill them.

"All of you say you can make change.  That you are the best to make change.   Let me ask all of you, I give you a $3.00 for a political button that cost $2.30 how much change will you give me back?"

Clinton charactor:  Tim, I would give you .70 cents.

Mike Gravel: I wouldn't give you a dime!   I'd stick it to you!  I'd keep all the money.

John Edwards: Can change be measured in dollars and cents.   The system is broken.  Can't you see how broken the system is.  But sure the other candidates can give you 70 cents back.  I'll fight to get you $6.00.

Obama: That is interesting question Tim.  What we have to ask ourselves is what is change.  How do we get it?  Do we have to go to a bank?  Do we have use a cash register?  Sure I could just give you 70 cents ... two quarters, and two dimes, but that is the old way of making change.   If we are going to make fundamental change we have to ask ourselves tough question.  Should we use quarters?   Dimes?   What about pennies?  What if you want it all in pennies and I want to give you all dimes?  I will bring us all together and make change that works ... for everyone.

by dpANDREWS 2008-01-14 02:07PM | 0 recs
Okay I am going off a bit here, this is fun

Tim Russert charactor:  I would like to re-direct for a moment to Senator CLinton.  Senator CLinton you say you can bring change, but you don't mention dimes, or pennies.   Senator Obama is here promising us a different kind of change, a change that involves dimes and pennies.   What is your response?

Clinton Charactor:  WTF Tim?  I said I'd give you 70 cents ...

Russert: ... but what about dimes and pennie ....

Clinton: Tim, $3.00 minus $2.30 is 70 cents, my position i ....

Russert: But you are not addressing dimes and pennies.  What about dimes and pennies?

Clinton [Big Smile]: I don't know Tim.  I'll leave that to you to figure out.

Obama [smiling, nodding, in the background]:  Pennies.  Tim I'll bring the pennies.

by dpANDREWS 2008-01-14 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Making Change

Great Diary... I'm an Obama supporter, because of how lead on ethics and the war.  But really like Edwards as well.  Edwards is not going to win unless he does something in NV, but I think and Edwards-Obama coalition may go into the convention with more delegates than Hillary.

by CardBoard 2008-01-14 02:42PM | 0 recs

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