But why not just support Obama? He's got the charisma and momentum. He's bringing in new voters, particularly young voters and independents, who could dramatically broaden the Democrats' reach. He's worked and lived in an amazingly broad range of challenging contexts. I like how he raises hopes and expectations, and therefore what voters may demand. If we back him now, he can build on Iowa's momentum, beat Hillary Clinton and have a strong chance at defeating the Republicans.
If all those wary of Clinton coalesce around Obama, he really would become the odds-on favorite to defeat her as the Democratic standard-bearer. That would be a fine result because both Obama and Edwards poll considerably better against the leading Republicans than does Clinton. And because Clinton was willing to help lead us into war with Iraq, helped increase the risk of war in Iran, and hoarded so many scarce campaign dollars in 2006 that it probably cost the Democrats an even larger victory. Despite her newfound scramble to claim the mantle of "change agent," she did little or nothing to challenge Bush's destructive agenda when he was riding high in the polls, and has cozied up to problematic corporate power from her first days serving on the board of WalMart. Even if she did get in, she has the potential to radically split the Democratic Party.
So I was delighted when Obama and Edwards beat her in the Iowa caucuses. But that doesn't mean Edwards should necessarily drop out. His presence pushes Obama to deal with the hard issues of power and wealth in America--ones that, to be honest, Obama has too often skated over in recent years. If voters do develop reservations about Obama, Edwards offers a strong alternative. While Edwards obviously remains a distinct longshot, his numbers are strong enough that voters deserve at least a chance to further weigh his promise--he's more than just a symbolic candidate. And I do want to see Obama tested just at least a bit more before we hand him the nomination.
As long as Obama and Edwards don't rip each other apart (and this week they feel enough like allies for me to dream of the promise of a joint ticket), I'm continuing to donate to both of them, doing my small part to help both offer their visions to America. If I had to vote today, it would be a hard call, but I'd probably still go for Edwards, though in a few weeks I might choose differently. But for now, I'd like to see both these strong voices continue to have a shot at leading America.