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"America is better than this!"

That was John Edwards's refrain today at a rally for Heath Shuler that he attended in Asheville, NC (NC-11).  

While Shuler was supposed to be the main player today (after all he is the one running for office right?), John Edwards stole the show.  It was quickly obvious to this veteran from NH primary season that what we were hearing was a very early form of a stump speech from Edwards.  But before I get there, let's talk about what Shuler had to say first.

The essence of Shuler speech was changing the course.  He spoke of bringing high paying jobs back into the district (we have been hard hit by the textile mills leaving the area for points south).  This was spoken in conjunction with renewable energy and energy independence.  One of Shuler lines that got the greatest response was: "We must change the course in Iraq because it's not acceptable."  Keep in mind that this is from a Dem running in a "conservative" Southern district.  I guess he got the memo that the war just wasn't playing well.   To be fair, he did not say what the course change would consist of, but it hardly seemed to matter to the crowd.  The fact that both Shuler and Edwards have young children was brought up several times in the "Let's do it for them" kind of way, particularly in relation to Healthcare.  After a very brief introduction, Edwards came up and stole the show.  

Edwards was supposedly talking about "what is at stake" and therefore why people should vote for Shuler.  Surprisingly, for Edwards, he seemed to focus on the image of America overseas.  This from the man who seemed to run in 2004 by not talking about International Relations almost at all.  Everyone remember "One America?"  But today was all about the need for American leadership in the world.  However, Edwards was not tying this just to the way that we handle situations overseas, but also, how things are handled here.  One of his truly great lines (IMHO) was "Power alone does not make you a leader; you actually have to have the moral authority to lead."  He pointed out that "it is not just us.  It is not just Western North Carolina, it is not just North Carolina, and it is not just America.  The World suffers as a result."  In dealing with the need for US leadership in the world Edwards focused on Africa and the poverty, genocide, and AIDS crisis there.  While poverty is still big for Edwards, it is not just American poverty anymore, but world wide poverty as well.  Edwards then made the BIG claim that "the future of the world is at steak in this election.  It is.  This one and the next one."  

Then Edwards moved into domestic policy.  He pointed out that we need to lead by example.  He pointed to Abu Ghrab and Gitmo.  He pointed to Healthcare, single mothers worrying about healthcare for their children.  "If they wake up with a  sick 4 year old at three o'clock in the morning, this is what they know: They are going to have to go to the emergency room and beg for Healthcare.  We are better than that.  America is better than that and you know it."  The entirerty of the Edwards domestic policy were things that you would expect from him, but it is know through the lens that we have to clean up our act to gain the moral authority to lead in the world.  He also suggested putting all the politicians that vote against a minimum wage increase on minimum wage for a year.  After listing a litany of "Bush and gang" domestic policy travesties, come this "How dare these people claim the moral high ground.  They give money to Exxon at the same time they are taking away money for healthcare for poor children.  It is immoral.  We need morality."

I am going to end with Edwards's own words:

I have been all over this country in the last few years, and I am not sure about some things, but there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of: There is a huge hunger in America.  A hunger to be inspired again.  People want to be inspired.  They want to be engaged.  They want to feel good about their country.  They want to think that they still live in an America where everything is possible.  They want to live in an America where the son of a mill worker, remember (crowd laughter), can go on to do great things for their country.  They want to live in an America where everyone has a chance to do great things.  They want to live in an America where we are once again the envy and model to the rest of the world.  They want to live in a country they are proud of.  Well I am here to tell you that it is not too much to say that not only the future of America, but the future of the world is at stake, and what I would say to every single one of you in this audience, in the next two plus weeks...when you are asked to do the hard, hard work...just remember every minute you are doing it what is at stake. Because when I talk about what our responsibility is I am not talking about me, I'm talking about us.  Because we can not wait for some one else to do this.  We can't.  There is too much at stake and the time is now and literally the world is depending on you and me.

All in all I was pretty impressed.  What really stood out to me at the time was how he framed in the language of values and morality.  I am not sure that it came across here, but it was definitely there.  After the rally today there is little doubt in my mind that Edwards is very seriously thinking about running again.  If he does I will have to think hard about supporting him.  Up to know I was keeping myself completely open as to whom I would support, and more than likely work for, in the 08 cycle.  What I heard from Edwards today was what I have been asking for in a lot of ways: a leader to stand up and say that the future of the world is really at stake here.  Also, I think that Edwards gets it with the fact that people want to be inspired again.  That has been my experience in the last few days here on campus as we have really been pushing the envelope with ideas as to what direction the school needs to be moving in.  If Edwards can effectively tap into that energy that is out there, and if he will run as what I believe he actually is, a true progressive, I will have no problem trudging through NH up to my butt in snow for him.  Jeez, I think I need to find my snow boots.....

Originally posted to cm1165 on Fri Oct 20, 2006 at 07:39 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Whoever does it, we need that inspiration (4+ / 0-)

    I know I can get pretty upset about what is happening, and I don't think we should stop fighting against the abuse of power and the corruption of our current government, but I am also eager to hold out that positive vision of what we can still become as a nation and a world.  

    I believe we can still turn toward a better world, restore democracy and constitutional rights in our own nation, and truly make progress toward such goals as sustainable living, renewable energy, health care for all, real security, greater economic equity, fair and free elections, and a more hopeful future once again.

  •  Quibble (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cm1165

    I have a problem with Edwards's "People want to be inspired.  They want to be engaged." for the same reason that comedians make fun of the airline flight attendants' script "We would like to welcome you aboard..."

    OK, welcome us aboard and cut out the passive voice twice removed distancing.

    OK, John Edwards stop telling us that Americans want to be inspired and inspire us.  It is the people who should remark about inspiration, not the politicians.

    •  keep in mind... (6+ / 0-)

      that this was technicly an event for Shuler, not Edwards, so he was saying that people like Shuler are going to win in the long run, because they have the ability to inspire.  Also, keep in mind that the room was full of County and district party offcials, as well as at least one DNC member.  So it was a sell job not meant for general consumtion, but to the party faithful to show them why they should throw their considerable weight behind him now.  

      Just my two cents.

      CM

      The Great appear great because we are on our knees - Let Us Rise! -- "Big Jim" Larkin

      by cm1165 on Fri Oct 20, 2006 at 08:14:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Coming Home Again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MattBellamy, tabbycat in tenn, machka

    cm-1165 - Great diary - thanks for posting it.  You might wanna add NC-11 to the title.

    I am so glad that John Edwards has decided to come home to North Carolina on 2 consecutive Fridays to campaign of behalf of 2 terrific candidates, Larry Kissell (NC-8) and Heath Shuler (NC-11).  These are races we can win in NC, just as JRE won his own race for the Senate back in '98 against an incumbent GOP pig farmer (yes, really).  

    Wins by Kissell and Shuler will take us up to 8 Democratic Congressmen, vs just 5 worthless GOP nutballs.  So much for NC being red.

  •  Thanks for your insight. (0+ / 0-)

    How is Shuler doing in the polls?

    Edwards is a man that does seem to get the big picture, and people can relate to his message.

    Have you been to One America Committe's website?

    http://blog.oneamericacommittee.com/

    •  Schuler is doing very well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tabbycat in tenn, cm1165
      He was up 51%-43% in the RT Strategies poll on October 10th and up 51%-40% in the Zogby (telephone) poll on October 2nd.
      •  That's good to hear. (3+ / 0-)

        Shuler by 9 - that's a two possesion game! :-)

        Charles Taylor and the NRCC have been buying as much airtime as they can.

        It's all negative, and most of it really badly done. Even Taylor's own ads acknowlege that people are wanting change. (But Heath Shuler's liberal friends will raise your taxes! Heath Shuler's heart is in still in Tennessee! Heath Shuler payed his taxes late!) It smells of desperation.

        While Shuler has run fewer ads, they've been devistatingly good. He asks the simple question "What has Charles Taylor been doing for the past 12 years?" He's been cutting services WNC residents depend on, giving his rich buddies tax cuts, and running up the deficit. He then tells the viewers that he doesn't think that's right and what he will do differently. Good ad. Right to the point. Nice contrast.

        I hope Shuler wins. I never want to see another damn Charles Taylor attack ad again. I don't even live in NC-11 and I have to put up with that crap every two years.

  •  I'm really proud of Heath... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Southern Dem

    The Republicans tried hard to get him to run for office and he turned them down, went home, and ran as a Democrat. Go Heath!! He has a wonderful family and they obviously raised him right.

  •  Thanks for the Update (0+ / 0-)

    We need the new blood Democrats to stand up.  We also need more of them in office

  •  Great report! (0+ / 0-)

    I wanted to attend this rally, but I couldn't get out of work. Thanks for posting this.

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