Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Edwards Voter's "Plan B"

It’s barely the end of January, and I already hate the 2008 election season.

I’m an unabashed supporter of John Edwards. I’ve been a supporter of his going back to when he originally won his Senate seat in North Carolina. Since the New Hampshire primary, I’ve had to accept the reality that he’s once again not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.

When one connects the dots, one realizes that a candidate like Edwards, with a pro-worker, anti-corporate message, has little chance for the White House when multinational conglomerates like GE, Viacom and Time Warner run some of the main media outlets. Given this, perhaps my endorsement of Edwards’ candidacy can be construed as naïve, but if ever there were a time in America for optimism, the final year of the Bush Administration would certainly qualify. I felt that Edwards gave America the best chance at a recovery from the bottom up. It looks increasingly like this once again isn’t his year, and that’s truly a shame.

So I’m left – stuck with? - Obama and Clinton.

The debate a few nights ago in South Carolina bluntly reminded me why I never liked Bill Clinton and voted for Perot twice back in the ‘90’s. Hillary Clinton, like her ex-president spouse, has a tendency to speak for a long time without saying anything. Based on the amount of damage George W. Bush has done to this country over the last 7 years, this election more than any other requires forceful leadership. I’m not looking for a lot of big words and amorphous ideas. While Obama and Edwards gave what sounded a lot like a plan to end the Iraq War by the end of 2009 in the last debate, Clinton hemmed and hawed and gave us all a "maybe if" scenario. In the absence of a plan, I assume that the war continues under Hillary Clinton for a long, undetermined period after January 20, 2009 if she’s elected. For a debacle as enormous as the Iraq War, any person with a conscience shouldn’t have to think twice about ending this war as immediately as possible upon taking the White House. Hillary Clinton isn’t even in the proverbial parking lot of the stadium that houses this idea.

Add to this that the Clintons still have a lot of explaining to do regarding globalization and the adoption of NATFA under their watch, and I find myself rooting against Hillary Clinton, tears and all. Too often, when the economy is explained to Americans, the first phrase coming out of someone’s mouth is "We’re in a global economy now, and to remain competitive……". This is usually followed by a twisted rationalization for why more American jobs must be sent overseas. What it really is is a war chant for more corporate greed and continued concentration of wealth in the hands of the few.

Like many Americans, I think there are better ways for the United States to stay engaged in the global economy without Americans losing their jobs and CEO’s getting 8-figure salaries and benefits packages. While the Clintons didn’t invent this behavior, they certainly enabled it when they last occupied the White House. One visit to any number of dying towns in America with an abandoned and shuttered factory tells you all you need to know about who’s losing under the current set of rules. I’m convinced that these rules won’t change under a Hillary Clinton presidency.

For Obama, my reservations about him come from the fact that he hasn’t been on the national stage very long. I also remind myself that he got on the national stage by beating Alan Keyes by 50 points in an election, which is about as difficult a task as boiling a pot of water. However, the election results thus far have forced me to listen to what he is saying. I’m not particularly happy with Obama’s idea of bringing Republicans and Democrats to the table together, as Republicans haven’t demonstrated that they can compromise on anything for the last 15 years. "Be reasonable, do it my way" is not how one reaches consensus. The best solution is to leave the Republicans out in the cold for a time based on the amount of unfettered damage they’ve done to this country. From what I’ve seen, roughly 70% of the electorate would agree with this approach. While still not as compelling a message to me as that of John Edwards, Obama goes far enough into my sphere of belief that I can be counted in his camp if Edwards drops out.

The Wisconsin primary is scheduled for long after the eventual nominee is probably decided. If Edwards is still on the ballot or has staged some kind of miracle comeback by then, he’ll get my vote. I will state that if this year’s Democratic Convention becomes brokered, I would hope that the Edwards delegates have the good sense to go with Obama, for the good of the party and for the good of the country going forward.

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