From the moment I was first eligible in 1968, I took the right to vote somewhat seriously and didn’t miss a single election. In 1992 I donned a more intense interest in the franchise, and, as a consequence of the confecting of truth and Machiavellian machinations of the Reagan-Bush administrations, switched from the Republican to Democratic Party. Because of the panoply of national and international wreckage wrought by the Bush-Cheney cabal, “intense” does not begin to define the heated fervor that has been coursing my frame for seven years.
Politics is sometimes defined as nonviolent, civilized warfare. It is the art of achieving the possible, and involves a lot of negotiation and compromise. No one gets absolutely everything he or she wants.
Casting a ballot is not about making some statement, it’s about which philosophy is going to run the government and thereby affect the lives of us all. Following along the “art of the possible” model, pulling the lever or blackening the bubble adjacent a candidate who has no real chance of winning is foolhardy. What it does is weaken the likelihood an acceptable, yet more electable candidate will actually be nominated, then elected.
For example, on the Democratic side, Senator Joe Biden is my first preference for president. Not in every instance to his benefit, he is a straight shooter. He was first elected to the Senate in 1972, and has decades of experience as Chairman or Ranking Member on the Foreign Relations Committee. Not only has he as much or more knowledge dealing with the thorny issues and foreign government leaders than anyone else in Washington, Joe knows where the skeletons are buried and who’s in which closet with whom. He knows how to play the Washington game. His agenda isn’t based on what he feels will best placate whichever audience he’s facing at any given time, it’s decade-to-decade consistent and honed. If Senator Biden were president, I’ve no doubt whatsoever he would accomplish the programs he’s laid out. Because he knows it’s essential to success, he can, as he always has, worked well with those on both sides of the isle. There are none who do not respect Joe Biden. NONE!
But it’s manifestly evident right now that Joe ain’t gonna make it, any more than will Democrats Dennis Kucinich or Chris Dodd, or Duncan Hunter or Ron Paul on the Republican side. So I’m not going to waste my vote voting for Joe. So let me tell you who I’m going to work to try to nominate, then elect as president.
First however, here’s a brief rundown of the horrible mess we’re in.
Do not let anyone try to tell you the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility, or that 9/11 is the why of it. When Bush entered the White House he had a $200+ billion surplus that during the campaign he claimed was the “taxpayers’ money” and ought to be returned. Nor are claims a recession was part of the problem. The definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters (6 months) of negative GDP growth. That never happened. What happened was that, with the assist of the GOP members in both chambers, he gave the money to his “haves and have mores” pals. A $4 trillion national debt has mushroomed into $9.5 trillion, and will likely pass $10 trillion by the time he leaves.
Say what you will about Bill Clinton. Let anyone. Nevertheless, as Ronald Reagan claimed, “Facts are stubborn things.” During the Clinton years, 22 million jobs were created and millions were lifted out of poverty thereby. And this was done without a single GOP vote in 1994, when Bob Ruben drew the blueprints for the decade. Since Bush, however tens of millions more line the poverty roles and nearly 50 million are today without any health insurance whatsoever. (Yeah George, “They just go to the ER.”) Like that’s a freebie Americans aren’t having to pay for. Who knows the multiples of tens of millions who are underinsured, absolutely too terrified to visit a doctor because they won’t be able to afford whatever the physician’s diagnosis and recommended treatment may be.
Everyone knows the ugly tale that is Iraq, how we’ve squandered around the globe good will in order to secure some machismo, and the duplicity has left us with few who any longer trust what we say. We are weaker, more susceptible to attack, not only as a consequence of a military that is worn out, but because of the sand we threw in the face of our friends.
In pursuit of unfettered power, the Bush-neocon regime has trampled asunder the Constitution and its various proscriptions that protect us, our heritage, and very way of life. Never, NEVER in my life would I have suffered the repugnant nightmare that even discussing and parsing what may or may not constitute torture until George Bush and his GOP allies made it a loathsome reality. The man whose birthday we acknowledge this season summoned us all to turn the other cheek. While we may not always be able to do that, you cannot sing sufficient praises, or sing them loud enough to cover the agonizing cacophony that draws from torture.
More and more and more, and there’s a lot of work ahead, cleaning the Bush-GOP pig sty we’ve been left with.
Can Hillary Clinton win the presidency? Perhaps. What she most assuredly will do is mobilize currently disgruntled Republicans to go to the polls. What we don’t know is whether her ties to vested interests will enable her to truly effect the changes that are absolutely essential, if this country and what is used to stand for is to have any hope of resuscitation.
So what about Barack Obama? Every recent one-on-one match-up — whether it’s Romney or Giuliani or Huckabee or McCain — suggests Obama can be elected. The questions I harbor concern whether he has the passion in his heart to fight the extraordinarily powerful interests that will line up against him, to effect the changes needed, and whether he has the moxie to work congress to those ends. Being a good person everyone likes and admires, while refreshing for a time, just will not be sufficient; not by a long shot! The legitimacy of the old saw — ya gotta break eggs . . . — isn’t restricted to the bed-and-breakfast business. Does Obama know how to wrestle congress to the mat without ticking them off? I have my doubts; very serious doubts.
Here’s why I’m backing John Edwards.
He hasn’t changed his positions on healthcare, or working wages for the hundred+ million Americans whose wages have stagnated and whose working conditions have deteriorated for far too long, or on the savaging of the middle-class that has been wrought by NAFTA and CAFTA and other international trade agreements, or on protecting the environment, or on the immense education problems we must solve, just to remain internationally competitive, or on Iraq, or on an entire host of other backbreaking burdens confronting the country.
John Edwards is a fighter. He has taken on the moneyed big-business interests and beaten them, and beaten them, and beaten them over and over and over. He’s got a record: this pit-bull will not demur the fight on behalf of Joe Sixpack. My philosophy for business is that, large, medium or small, if you cannot pay a fair wage or treat the employees with respect, just maybe you shouldn’t be in business. When the top ½ of 1% of folks control 60% of America’s wealth, something very wrong is just plain wrong. When the so-many-times-over-that-you-can’t-even-count-them Walton kazillionaires pay miserly wages and provide the few benefits they do to those making their wealth possible, something terribly wrong is just plain wrong. The 1935 NLRA, Wagoner Act, intended to protect labor, has been disparaged and largely ignored to the point that all American workers now find themselves in precarious conditions and without a whisper concerning what concerns their lives and the lives of their families. Edwards is on record to rectify via legislation — or by executive orders to the Department of Labor, if that’s what it will take — this most egregiously unbalanced circumstance.