No doubt, our nomination system needs reform. Iowa has too much power. My state of Texas probably will have no say in this important race. There have been several posts about Iowa's out-sized relevance, and those arguments have merit. I'm not sure what the remedy is, but it'll probably involve some kind of rotating regional structure.
Having said that, thank you Iowa! This may be your swan song, but you went out with a home run!
There will be lots of stories coming out of Iowa, but the biggest story is that Hillary is no longer "inevitable." And for that, I say thank you Iowa!
My Dad's from Iowa, and I've got several generations of Iowa lineage. I've been to Iowa almost every summer and winter of my life. I've run on Gray's Lake. I've attended an I-Cubs game. I've water-skiied at Clear Lake. I've been to the Surf Ballroom. I've slid down the big yellow slide at the State Fair. I've been to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville. I've rung up a big tab at brewery on Court Ave. I've played golf at Wakonda. And of course, I've enjoyed my Grandma's tasty pork chop and fresh corn dinners.
So there is some personal bias when I say 'thank you Iowa', and I admit that.
But the national media really wanted a Subway Series between Clinton & Giuliani, and it seemed like there was nothing that we could do stop this inevitablity train. The meaningless national polls were given way too much attention by the media, and this false narrative reinforced itself as local community leaders felt pressure to endorse Clinton. But Iowa never wavered. Iowa charted its own course. Iowa gave both Obama and Edwards a fair hearing. So, thank you Iowa!
This election is about change.
We need either Edwards or Obama. The good folks of Iowa have given these change candidates a chance to get their message out. If Barack wins the nomination, then I believe that we'll finally achieve a progressive governing majority by the time he leaves office. But if Edwards wins, I'll work my ass off for him as well. Either candidate could win the White House in 2008 and take our country in a new direction.
But if Hillary had won Iowa, it would have been all over. The Republican base is fractured and dispirited. It's unfortunate, but Hillary was the only thing keeping this Republican coalition together. Thankfully, Iowa voters didn't cave to what the media pundits had to say. Iowans are good people, and they take their politics seriously. They know their decision tonight will have a major impact on the future of our politics, and I have confidence that they will not surrender to Clinton's inevitablity myth.
For what it's worth, here's my 2 cents on why I'm supporting Barack...
There's so many reasons. His strong progressive policies. His history as a community organizer. His judgment on Iraq. His legendary speech in 2004. His humility and humor. His JFK-like ability to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things. His ability to get young people to engage in our democracy. But most importantly, I like Barack because his committment to make peace with people who disagree with him.
This is not easy to do.
It's always easier to attack people who disagree with us, whether they're political opponents or international competitors. It's much harder to listen, to discuss, to compromise and to persuade. Our Constitutional history is basically a series of compromises, and thank God our forefathers were able to work out their differences and come together for the good of our new nation. Sadly, the recent Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton-style politics has created a bitter atmosphere of attack politics that has made voters cynical about our government. That's a tragedy. We face many challenges in the 21st century, and we need to be a united as a country as we solve our problems together. There needs to be shared sacrifice. We must never forget that we have more in common than what separates us.
It's not easy to make peace, but this is the important lesson that Barack has learned on his unique American journey. In college, Barack developed a special skill to bring people together as he became the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. He perfected this talent as a community organizer fighting for working families in Chicago. Upon entering elected office in Illinois, he succeeded in bringing people together to pass the toughest government reform laws in decades. He's not just changing the policies...he's changing the system. He's inspiring ordnary folks to do extraordinary things. To accomplish this, he knows he has to build a governing coalition and unite instead of divide.
Normally, when you get run over by an arrogant and hypocritical administration like Bush/Cheney, the natural response is to want to fight back in kind. It feels good, and you want an eye for an eye.
But we must take a step back and focus on making peace. There's too much at stake. On the international level, we need to make peace with countries that are very different from ours. On the Democratic primary level, we need to make peace after the nominee is decided. In the general election, we need to make peace with independent voters who have been voting for Bush but have since seen the light. In general, we can't let our minor differences overshadow our greater similarities.
Because Barack strives for peace and unity doesn't mean he's going to sacrifice his progress principles. This video effectively responds to those false claims. Instead, Barack will use his hopeful messaage to persuade more independents to join the progressive tent, thus creating a political atmosphere that will demand change at all levels of government. This isn't a zero-sum game. We can inrease the size of our progressive network and create a governing majority. With a candidate like Barack, we can actually accomplish the impossible and win a filibuster-proof Senate.
In Texas, Barack will increase overall voter turnout in our major metro areas of Houston/Dallas/Austin/San Antonio/Fort Worth/El Paso and help underdog Democrats like Rick Noriega to take back the Senate. Noriega is a leading netroots candidate, and if he can join Barack on stage this summer with audiences of 20,000 in each major city, than we can build the largest progressive grassroots network in Texas history. We'll have an inspiring national candindate and an inspiring Texas candidate. We'll shatter every voting turnout record across the state. When Texas turns blue, then the country begins turning blue. We've got 32 electoral votes, and that'll force Repubs to take some money out of OH, FL, PA, MI, etc.
Edwards is my #2. I'm a populist, and Edwards is speaking the truth. It's understandable that the progressive blogs favor Edwards' confrontational Two Americas approach. Bloggers typically read the news more and have digested more ridiculous Bush/Cheney actions than the average voter. But Barack is my preference because of his unique diplomacy skills that can hopefully achieve real peace. He truly is a once-in-a-generation candidate. I'm voting FOR Barack, not AGAINST Edwards.
Specifically, I agree with Seymour Hersh that Barack may be our "only hope" to clean up the mess that Bush/Cheney has created. We're at a very precarious moment in human history, and I believe in the urgency of now. Wheter it's global warming or making peace with Muslim nations, we're running out of time to fix the problems that Bush/Cheney created. Partly because Barack doesn't have to apologize for the Iraq war, and party because of his unique life story, other countries will give him a fair hearing as he pursues peaceful and diplomactic solutions. The day Barack is sworn into office, the world will look at us differently. We'll have renewwed "political capital". We desperately need Barack at this time in our history.
But it's not just international relations. To enact progressive domestic policies in America, we need to build a filibuster-proof Senate majority. To build this governing majority, we must focus on the average voter, not the whims of the blog straw polls. It's simply human nature for regular folks (who don't read this blog) to prefer uplifting, hopeful messages over fear and anger. Remember that Bill Clinton was the man from Hope, and lots of regular folks connected with that message. The domestic policy differences between our three leading 2008 Democratic candidates are minimal. But I believe Barack will be more effective in actually getting results because he'll persuade independents to support our progressive principles.
Whether Iowa gives a boost to Edwards or Obama, I'm happy. I've got good friends in both campaigns, and both staffs have done an amazing job this cycle. Our future is in good hands, and it feels good to be a Democrat.
Again, I say 'thank you Iowa' for taking your role seriously and not acting like political sheep and crowning Hillary the Inevitable. Is this Heaven...no it's Iowa!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.