Last Tuesday, the A.F.L. C.I.O and MSNBC teamed up to host a Democratic presidential debate at Soldier Field. I was there among 19,000 union members and their families, enduring the heat on a muggy afternoon.
The ticket-takers took tickets, the audience steadily swelled, and inexorably, at thier appointed time, the candidates marched out of their tunnel in single file toward the stage.
Big names like "Edwards" and "Obama" and "Clinton" got big cheers and even screams. Each candidate shook hands with Keith Olberman; some then feigned familiarity with the audience.
At one point Clinton appeared to look at me and whip out a spastic wave as if she had just recognized me. (Nobody knows who they hell I am--certainly not Clinton.)
Ever cautious not to look like a fool, I did not return that wave--no matter how convinced Mrs. Clinton appeared to be of our acquaintance.
Most candidates had a security detail of one or two secret agents. Clinton had the entire starting offense of the Baltimore Ravens.
But I digress.
Of course there was also a debate. But "debate" is a funny word, whose meaning is largely elusive in current presidential races.
Debate: Noun. "A discussion involving opposing points; an argument."
The purpose of said debate is simple: each candidate gets an equal amount of time to advance their opinions or points, and the would-be governed pick the candidate with the best ideas.
The best ideas promise to nurture the individual goals of the would-be governed: good health care, good paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and good schools for their children.
The best ideas favor Americans who live and work in our country...America, and the candidate spouting those ideas should theoretically rise to the top of the pack.
But here's front-runner Hillary Clinton on NAFTA: " I believe in smart trade... Pro- American trade." Sounds good, but wait. "[I believe in] trade that... tries to lift up not only American workers but also workers around the world."
What? Why should we focus on workers around the world when workers right here in this country are losing their jobs to Mexico? Why not lift up my family? Why not lift up my friends? And until you do that, I don't want to hear a damn thing about workers around the world.
Here's Kucinich on NAFTA, arguably the worst assault on American workers since the Ludlow Massacre: "In my first week in office, I will notify Mexico and Canada that the United States is withdrawing from NAFTA."
Clinton is for reform...Kucinich is for scrapping the program entirely, a bold and alternative idea worthy of equal consideration before the would-be governed.