On Friday I flew from Boston to Des Moines to vlog an Edwards speech in Waukee, Iowa. I'm quickly getting addicted to the thrill of citizen journalism. Edwards is known for his domestic policy orientation, but on this Friday night Edwards chose to focus his remarks on America's role in the world.
Edwards is clearly talking about how his anti-poverty crusade, based on a new sense of American patriotism and moral values, are an essential ingredient to our foreign policy. His thinking on American leadership in the world is inextricably linked to his strong belief in community, patriotism and morality that we need to demonstrate through our actions here at home and abroad.
Follow me below the fold for the video of Edwards and the interviews I did on a warm and breezy Friday night in a small Iowa town when all of us in the school gym were thinking about the world outside, far outside.
He didn't have time to tell us a cute story about Jack and Emma or update us on Cate. He did say that Elizabeth is fine, but it was right down to business as he stood next to and not behind the podium. He needed to get closer to the audience to do what he planned to do in Waukee. He planned to paint us a picture of where we are and where we need to be as a great country that is capable of doing great things, which is what this crazy ongoing experiment that is called America is about to me.
He starts his remarks by saying: "I'd like to take a few minutes to talk to you about what has been happening in the world today and particularly what all of us have been seeing on our televisions screens the last few days."
- The ongoing conflict between Hezbollah and Israel
- The ongoing war in Iraq, "which is an extraordinary mess, something that I think we have a responsibility to do something about"
- He apologizes for his vote on IWR and says that: "I have said since and I stand by this, that my vote was a mistake and I take responsibility for that. I think it's important for us to tell the truth about those of us who have supported this war and now believe it was a mistake. I thought sometime ago that it was a mistake."
- Iran, their president and their nuclear ambitions
But if you look at the way this administration and America for that matter has been reacting to this situation because that's really what it is `reacting'. You don't see any long-term view about what America needs to be doing.
I've spent a lot of time traveling around the world the last couple of years... The one thing that's clear to me is the world does not see you. They don't see your character. They don't see what you're made of. They don't see what you care about or what your priorities are.
Here's what they see: they see America expanding America's use of its military. They see, what they perceive to be, America trying to expand its influence in the world. What they don't see is they don't see `our better angels.'
They don't see that we are willing to engage in issues that are outside our own self-interest. They don't see that we care about the huge moral issues that face the planet. And there are so many chances for us to do something about this.
Where is America? Where is America in leadership? We are dragged kicking and screaming to doing anything."
I might add except war.
In this part of his remarks Edwards discusses:
- Global poverty, "half our planet lives on 2 dollars a day or less - 3 billion people."
- Darfur, "Not on our watch? It's happening right now, right in front of us - Genocide."
- The preventable tragedies of AIDS, "tonight there will be a child born, more than one, in Africa because their mother has AIDS and they can't afford a four dollar dose of medicine."
- Human rights abuses in Russia and China
So JRE clearly believes that we can win over hearts-and-minds throughout the world and regain our leadership role by being a genuine global force for good by demonstrating real concern for poverty, genocide, AIDS, human rights and diplomacy for peace. It's a concern that we already have, a concern that can be our greatest asset in the way that America is viewed by the world.
Then he really goes in for the kill with these committed Iowan Democrats continuing the theme that this is not merely a partisan battle, but a struggle and a conversation that we all must have so that this country can reach the other side, the right side of this discussion. We need to get right in this country and we need to have a conversation beyond talking points and meaningless focused-grouped phrases.
I love the Democratic Party, but I want you to know something. I love my country more and there is so much more than our party at stake.
If you think about this for a minute, there are really only two major parties in America and we've seen what one party will do over the last six years. We've alienated and driven away the rest of the world. They have absolutely no idea what we're made of and what we care about.
We have to be the savior. Our party has to be the leader and we have to bring America to the right place...
So when you're out there working in these elections ... I want you to think beyond the Democratic Party because literally the future of America and the world is at stake here."
Edwards begins to discuss the domestic situation at home focusing on poverty and Katrina.
When I was growing up America was this great model for the rest of the world. This was before Abu Grhaib. This was before Guantanamo. This was before the war in Iraq...
Well [the world] doesn't just look at what we do around the world they also look at what we do here at home. Those images that came on to our televisions screens out of New Orleans? We're not the only ones that saw them. The whole world saw them.
What they want to know from us is: Will the richest most powerful nation on the face of the planet actually turn it's back of 37 million of its own people who wake up everyday worrying about feeding and clothing their children?
One thing that our people understand that politicians just don't seem to get is what we do for the victims of the hurricane, for that matter what we do for millions of Americans that live in poverty everyday, it's not about them. We don't do it for them. We do it for us.
Again the link between doing the morally right thing and improving our standing in the world is just so obvious and persuasive.
Then Edwards starts in on our dependence on foreign oil and he said some startling things here, some things that made the trip worth it to me personally. He doesn't just plug ethanol because he's standing in the middle of a state with more corn than folks on the coasts can possibly imagine. He says this instead:
We should be the party that leads an Apollo Project that takes America away from its dependence on oil from the Middle East. We have to change where we are today. We have to, but I want to say something about this and this applies across the boards to what I'm talking about. We've got plenty of politicians in America and what we need are leaders. And we need leaders who will tell us the truth...
Do we need to invest in clean alternatives sources of energy? Of course we do... But it is not the truth to tell the country that we are going to solve our dependence on oil just by [innovation].
We need to ask America for a new kind of patriotism, patriotism about something more than war.
We need to say to the country, `It is important for your country for you to be willing to conserve. It is important for your country for you to be willing to sacrifice.' ...
We cannot drive vehicles that get 12 miles to the gallon and think that we're going to solve this problem. It will never happen."
The screen shot for this section of the diary may look a little scary, but I chose this one because he is saying, "It will never happen" at that point in the tape. He really puts a little body English on that line, great one Senator!
On civil liberties and security? "We, the Democratic Party, we will keep America safe. We will keep America strong economically and militarily, but we should never doubt that our liberties are most in jeopardy at times like this - every single day. We cannot give up what we are and who we are in the name of a war."
In this clip Edwards starts by telling us about how Bobby Kennedy inspired him so much as a kid when he traveled Appalachia and showed our nation "The Other America". Then he gets more wonkey and details his proposals for ending poverty in this country, because he doesn't talk about addressing the issue anymore. He doesn't talk about alleviating poverty anymore.
He talks about ending it in this country. Ending Poverty in America.
All in all it was a masterful presentation. It was thematic yet very persuasive and I personally needed to hear it in a profound way after traveling like a scared, temporarily barefoot sardine packed into a tin can of an airplane taking off from an airport in a major American city with the shadow of terrorism right out in the light of day for all of us to read and blatantly ignore on our fellow Americans' faces. The worst part of the whole thing was that I had to check a bag with all my "girl stuff" in it. I really hate checking a bag.
And now to the interviews, they're a little hokey, but gold. I even "interrogate" a soon to be fourth grader named Austin in the last clip.
Jim was a Dean supporter in 2004, his wife, who chose to not talk on camera was a Kucinich person. She went and caucused for Edwards after DK failed threshold in her precinct.
Jim would like to see more coverage, excuse me some coverage, of the mockery that is George Bush and the signing statements that he regularly engages in. That's where the President signs a bill containing the statement, "Disregard this bill." The ABA has been following this story and are urging Congress to act.
Boston Globe: ABA urges halt to signing statements.
Thanks for the interview, you were very articulate and I love your turn of a phrase. I too am sick of all the... well you know what I'm sick of.
Ben seemed like a real stand up kid and his good friend is running for State Rep. I am so sorry I didn't get his name or website. I hope we see you round the OAC blog, Ben, there are a lot of Iowans there.
Ben touched on the work that Edwards has been doing with Jack Kemp as co-chair of the Special Task on Russia for the Council on Foreign Relations.
I agree, inspirational and awesome. I truly want to live in a country with this kind of leadership. As we spoke before the remarks off camera, I told you that I'm so sick of it all and that Edwards has really touched a nerve with me. I've always been a political junkie but I lacked real passion and dedication. I never did anything except give and occasionally volunteer. That's end with me here.
I would also like to say that maybe you don't where to start on the discussion of Iraq because we can't have an honest discussion without name calling and partisan hackery that makes a mockery of something as important and solemn as war.
Sally and Dan
I love that you did the interview side by side. You also have mastered the art of giving each other their say, an important element of any marriage.
Sally, I think that you touched on one of the most important things that impressed me about Edwards that night. His remarks weren't political they were American. Dan, I truly believe that you'll get your chance to introduce our JRE as our next President. We're doing everything we can to make that a reality. And Edwards has definitely got your memo, he'll be back real soon.
Amen brother on Democrats showing us they have good ideas and can keep us safe at the same time. I think Edwards pretty much demonstrated that to us in his remarks, I think they were transcendent but oh so obvious and basic.
Thank you for supporting our guy last time and I look forward to all your hard work for him next time around. Kidding, not really. It ain't going to be easy, but it's vitally important.
Lorna is trying to get some traction on her idea that nurses should join forces with trial lawyers in order to inform and educate the public about the shady torte reform policy that Republicans are pushing all around the country. I agree that more attention needs to be paid to this issue because Republicans have decided to take the decision out of the hands of the citizens as jurors and bar us from setting the damages we feel are appropriate in these suits.
Dan "we will not be denied" Spellman. I'm glad that I was finally able to meet you. I like your emphasis on the false patriotism that Bush and the other "rah-rahs" push on the country.
You are lucky that you live in Iowa so enjoy the next year and a half. It's all going down in the Hawkeye State next time around. We're counting on you guys.
WOW. Troy will not be attending any Republican events because he's disappointed with the economy and ecology in particular. Troy, you seem to be a committed Republican and I'm sorry that your party has gone so far down this path that they've deflated all your passion and commitment to your ideology.
I totally agree with you on Hillary and Edwards, he can win the general and she can't. I hope we Democrats remember that a resume is just a piece of paper the next time around. Message and passion will always trump experience and organization. I hope.
Marcia gave up tickets to see James Taylor to attend the event in Waukee, a true sacrifice. I'm sure that she wasn't disappointed though once Edwards got rolling on this speech.
I love how you ended the interview. Thanks for all your great blog entries this weekend at OAC and all the great pictures that you posted.
One of my favorite interviews. I loved your remarks about the foreign policy situation America currently faces. It was a very long night, thanks for taking a moment to talk to me at the end.
Russ, I was very impressed with your bio. It made me wonder just what the heck I've been doing with my own life.
Russ is a pharmacist and works along side his wife. He's a member of the school board and was instrumental in getting the Prairie View Middle School built where the event was held. It was a beautiful new school, if only every child in America could start their term at such a nice place this fall.
Russ's website is here: Friends of Russ Wiesley. Check him out, as I said his bio is impressive.
I am so sorry I put you on the spot like that, but I think that you came out great in the interview anyway. It looks like I'm totally interrogating you in the clip. So sorry...
Thanks again and good luck in school this year.
Again my thanks to Dallas County Democrats, all the people who took the time to speak to me on or off camera, the OAC bloggers that were out in full force to represent for our favorite "Son of a Dot Dot Dot" and especially to Karen Miller aka townhomegirly, the event organizer, who also put me up and then got me to the airport at 5:30AM on Saturday for my flight back home.
It was an amazing experience and you all made that possible.
Previous Citizen Journalist Projects:
- Guerrilla Campaign, Iowa w/YouTube video
This was my first attempt in July 2006.
- Guerrilla video blogging: WakeUp Wal-Mart assignment
I did the day trip thing to Pittsburgh for this one. It was a great cause and a lively event.
My next assignment?
Thursday August 17th, 2006 New Haven, CT. - of course. Edwards is doing the Lamont thing at Ned's invitation, kos! I really can't wait for that one. Look for my report here first thing Friday morning. Where's your next assignment, kossacks?
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