Thank you Obama, you have convinced an Edwards supporter
by wade norris, Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 04:24:48 AM EST
Pride is a damn powerful thing. For some of us, we get behind a candidate because, well, we want them to win. For me with John Edwards, it is different. Let me tell you why I was proud to support Edwards, and how Barack Obama convinced me that he has truly taken on Edward's mantle in this campaign, leaving behind both Hillary Clinton, John McCain and the politics of parsing...
10 years ago this January, when I was in my first year of Divinity school at Campbell University in Buies Creek,N.C., the Monica Lewinsky scandal had just broken. Lauch Faircloth, the owner of Murphy Farms, the largest hog plant operation, and one of the worst polluters of the eastern part of NC, seemed poised to repeat his second term as Jesse 'race quota' Helms' understudy, and repeat his open door policy to lobbyists' influence in our state policy.
That year, my adult political hero, Bill Clinton, seemed to be taking down all of the good efforts he had done for the Democratic party, and more importantly, the local dems looking to pick up seats.
I remember, actually praying at night for someone, anyone, to defy this trend and take on the Jesse Helms/Faircloth team, against all odds and all hope.
Then, out of nowhere, a hero emerged. A man that pledged first and foremost to end lobbyist influence in his state, by pledging to take no lobbyist money. A man I learned years later when driving his personal friends during the Kerry-Edwards July 4th week homecoming rally in NC, was an individual who entered into politics, not because his father or grandfather arranged for that course of action like Bush, nor because he had a long term course charted out to be a politician... no, not for that.
It was because his son, Wade, a funny name I can relate with, asked him to run against Jesse Helms, to which John Edwards answered, 'no, we are going to remain private citizens';
only to have his son die in a car accident later that year. His friends told me, that after a period of mourning, John Edwards arose from his grief and took up the call to run for office. It was not long after that, John Edwards won his largest, and in fact the state's largest punitive damages case for corporation negligence in the history of North Carolina, for the family of Valerie Lakey, who had her intestines sucked out by a faulty pool drain that the company had already documented and settled several out of court cases before for the same occurrence with other children, a case that gave Edward the money to take on a well financed, lobbyist driven incumbent. Edwards won in a year, 1998, when no other new democratic seats were picked up in the south, and many seats were lost, and upon arriving in Washington, his first job was to depose Monica Lewinsky and defend Bill Clinton from perjury charges, which he has been credited for convincing the Senate not to impeach, by the narrowest of a one vote margin.
Yes it seemed my prayers were answered, and it was a peripheral observance of that campaign victory that got me more involved in politics, so much so, that I moved to Colorado in the year 2000 as part of Dick Gephardt's house majority project in an effort to unseat the notorious Tom Tancredo (we know how that turned out) and kept me involved through the past elections of 2004 and the successes of 2006.
So for me, pride is a damn powerful thing, because I credit John Edwards for encouraging me to get more involved, for telling me in his announcement for President speech in New Orleans, to not wait for the election of the next president, but to go out and do something. Well, I listened to a leader, and that has brought me into the larger world of blogging, (which I am very grateful to the Kossack world) and even radio and camera interviews of candidates including John and Elizabeth, and more importantly, using my voice in anyway possible to speak out for issues and candidates that support the issues of justice.
Tonight, after the Wisconsin win, I heard Barack Obama speak. Tonight, I saw and heard a leader that was not just about his own personal desire for a position or title, here was a person speaking out on the issues of the people - to put it in another way, speaking out for the little guy.
And as David Sirota recently noted, we Edwards supporters can hear a change in his tone, an almost Edwardian populist tone.
While I awaited with my buddy tonight, Faren Fleming, watching Obama's speech to see what he would say,I was surprised and pleased to hear a speech that made me believe that Obama and Edwards have had a long and lengthy discussion about - well about something, because I could hear the cause of John Edwards in Barack Obama's voice... and something more - true emotion and true leadership.
It is going to take more that big rallies, more than big speeches, more than policy papers, and positions and websites. It is going to require something more because the problems we face are not solve from the lack of good ideas, it is because Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die - because lobbyists crush them with their money and influence.
We're here because we have workers in Youngstown, Ohio, who have watched job after job disappear because of bad trade policies like NAFTA,
who worked in factories, some for 20 years, and then one day they come in and literally see the equipment unbolted from the floor and sent to China.
They need us to end the tax breaks that go to companies that ship jobs overseas and give them to companies that invest in jobs right here in the U.S.A. that pay well, provide a pension, and healthcare, that is the change they need.
We're here because of the mother of twins in San Antonio, who are legally blind - she somehow entered into a predatory loan and it saw her mortgage payments double in 2 weeks and was paying thousands in fees to try to stave off foreclosure. She told me she was on the verge of packing and did not know where her family would go next.
She needed us to crack down on predatory lenders and give relief to struggling homeowners who are tricked out of their dream. She needs change today.
And this last part, really touched me. It touched me because, conventional wisdom tells you that in a primary season, you don't talk about states that have already had their races, you talk about the next states in the race, but Obama referred to a woman in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Even more touching, there are moments, when you get choked up, and it is not staged, and you could clearly see a truly eloquent speaker, for the briefest moment,choked up about someone whom he did not need to mention...
We are here for the mother in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who gave me this bracelet I am wearing. Inscribed on it, the name of her son, Ryan... he was 20 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
And next to his name it says
'he gave...' (chokes)
'All gave some, but he gave all'
We are here because it is time to ask ourselves if we are serving Ryan and his compatriots and all our young brave men and women as well as they are serving us. They need us to end this war and bring them home and give them the care and benefits they deserve.
(Credit to Sam Graham-Felsens' blog for this clip)
Pride is a damn powerful thing. Tonight, Barack Obama earned a proud supporter, someone who knows that he has listened to and will carry on the legacy of John Edwards. And I will do all I can to see him lead this nation in a new direction.
p.s. Shout out to Million and Bill Winter, for reaching out to me during this race and showing true class - (hope Wyoming is treating you well Million.)