Tonight is the beginning. We will see whether the people can begin the transformation of the Democratic Party and the nation. The fundamental problem has been identifed and the choice is clear.
"I see the CEO of one of the biggest health insurance companies in America making hundreds of millions of dollars last year in one year. I see Exxon Mobil making billions and billions of dollars in profit, record profits. The top 1% of Americans are taking twice as much of America's income as they did 20-25 years ago," Edwards told supporters in Fort Madison today.
"The biggest corporations have an iron-fisted hold on your democracy."
We can reclaim our party and our democracy by electing John Edwards. Come around after the fold.
"The problem is that the successes of our economy are no longer shared," wrote Edwards in the [Wall Street] Journal opinion piece. "Forty percent of all economic growth over the past 20 years has gone to the top 1 percent of American families."
Chief executives now earn 400 times the average salary, according to Edwards, while the share of corporate profits going to CEO pay has doubled since the 1990s and the real value of the minimum wage has fallen.
The powerful are noticing that Edwards will bring transformative change to America:
John Edwards is running a notably more populist campaign than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. In several ways, Mr. Edwards is more open to using the government to try to help the middle class - and less trusting of the free market."
John Edwards at the United Rubber Worker's East Des Moines office, as reported by Time:
"It is time for some truth telling, and the truth is that corporate greed is destroying this country. I believe that we have a responsibility to stand up for the sacrifice and the hard work of those generations before us."
Edwards' final message is simple: "to make absolutely certain that our kids have a better life than we had. That's what this is all about, at the end of the day, to live up to our responsibility, to live up to what our folks did for us," Edwards said in a two-minute speech, his voice breaking, at a house party in Centerville 11 hours after his factory floor appearance.
The populist message is one that revolves around, and is squarely directed at, blue-collar Iowans. And while it would seem to be a risk to focus so exclusively on one group, the campaign says the message of economic inequity — a middle-class version of the poverty tour with which Edwards launched his campaign in December 2006 — resonates with all kinds of Americans. "One of the things that I've seen just in the last 12 to 14 hours is the energy and excitement as I move across Iowa," Edwards told reporters Wednesday in Mount Pleasant. "And the one thing that's clear to me [is] that the people of Iowa and the people of America are unstoppable when they commit themselves to stopping these entrenched special interests."
The people really are unstoppable if they seize this opportunity for real change. It has happened before in our nation's history. John Edwards can transform this nation in the way that Franklin Roosevelt did.
Fighting for real change, standing up for the people, and talking about FDR at the Ivy Bake Shoppe in Fort Madison, Iowa on December 31, 2007
Fighting for change is not a mere slogan, like "hope." There is a chance for real change in this nation, if we seize that opportunity. I believe Iowans will seize that chance tonight. It's not abstract; it's not an intellectual exercise. It really matters:
"Corporate greed is robbing our children of the promise of America and it is time for us to fight back, it is time for us to stand up," he said to cheers. "Tomorrow night, you need to send a fighter and a warrior into that arena on your behalf."
"You know the difference between somebody for whom this is academic, philosophical or political, and someone who is speaking from here," he said, pointing to his heart.
"If it is political and academic, when the going gets rough they will walk away."
It comes from his gut. John Edwards knows to every fiber of his being which side he is on.
"This [fight] is not intellectual or academic or philosophical for me," Edwards said in Fort Madison, implicitly distancing himself from the cerebral Obama. "This is driven by my life experience. I take it very personally." In her brief introductory remarks at the next stop in Burlington, Elizabeth Edwards tellingly echoed this thought. "I want you not to think about this in the abstract," she said.
This race is personal for Edwards in a way that no other candidate could possibly imagine. In 2004, when he waged an uphill battle against John Kerry until the end of February, Edwards sometimes gave off the impression that he was running as the candidate that his consultants wanted him to be. This time around Edwards is running as the candidate that he and Elizabeth always wanted him to be.
A real movement for change in this nation is unstoppable.
"There are people and corporations and powerful interests in Washington and all over this country who think their position in power on the top of the heap is inevitable and unchangeable.
"What I know is that when you rise up to take this country back for the middle class, you will be unstoppable."
They have tried throughout 2007 to destroy John Edwards' campaign, but he's still fighting. It's a close race in Iowa and New Hampshire. We're still here fighting for change.
We can and will rise up and take back our democracy. Change begins in Iowa tonight and moves to New Hampshire next week.
Jesse said to "keep hope alive" back in 1988. We have kept hope alive as the Democratic Party lost itself in the DLC and lobbyists. We kept hope alive while workers were screwed by unfair trade agreements and the unions were partly destroyed. We kept hope alive through the evil Bush regime. We kept hope alive as global warming advanced and environmental laws were gutted. We kept hope alive as poverty grew, racism continued, and classism became fashionable. We kept hope alive as choice was attacked and sexism grew. We kept hope alive as our GLBT brothers and sisters were deprived of fundamental human rights. We never gave up. We will not surrender to corporate control. We will never surrender. We will never give up our nation and our democracy without a fight.
Tonight, our hope will begin to come to fruition. But the fight does not end in Iowa; it will continue past tonight. It is a long struggle, but we will prevail.
"when you rise up to take this country back for the middle class, you will be unstoppable."
Help us in our struggle for a decent America: