I have been an Edwards supporter for a long time. I voted for him in 2004, in the Pennsylvania primary. (Of course, by then, the race was over.) Barring a Gore entry, which would have given me pause, I have considered myself a pro-Edwards Democrat ever since. Why? Because he has had the willingness to talk about poverty and fairness in a way that reminds me of Martin and Bobby. (I won't say that nobody else has; Jesse did. And I voted for him, once, for that reason.) And Edwards has told the truth about the extent to which our system of government has been hijacked by moneyed interests.
With his having removed himself from the race, I have chosen to throw in my lot with Obama. I wish to explain why now, because I think it is important to articulate why before Super Tuesday.
The title of this diary comes from a conversation I had with a Reagan supporter in 1984. (More after the jump:)
I'm not going to lie to anyone here. Hillary has always been a tough sell for me. I am fully prepared to vote for her in November, if my party nominates her, because I vote for my party's candidate. It wouldn't be the first time I had to "hold my nose". And the last time I didn't vote for my party's candidate, 1980, when I was a Republican, I chose to leave the party shortly thereafter.
Fellow Democrats whom I respect, including both of my siblings, have elected to go to Hillary as their candidate. And I think that Jane Hamsher made a perfectly valid point in addressing one aspect of the reluctance to consider Hillary that some people have:
As I listened to my siblings, both highly intelligent and committed Democrats, explain to me why each of them were planning to vote for Hillary, in their respective Super Tuesday states, the voice of my old friend Dot kept running through my head.
Dot was a work friend of mine in 1984. Died in the wool "working class" Democrat. But she was going to vote for Reagan in 1984. I liked Dot, thought she was an intelligent woman, and therefore I committed myself to changing her mind. So I sat down with her at lunch one day, and asked her how she felt on about a dozen issues. As I had hoped, her positions on each of those issues were different from Reagan's position. So I pounced. "Dot, you disagree with Reagan on every single issue we've discussed. Why are you voting for him?" She looked me straight in the eye, and said:
He makes me feel good about America.
And it was over. Nothing else mattered. She voted for Reagan.
I thought of that, while listening to my brother and sister yesterday. I thought about it in the context of what Senator Kennedy shared with us yesterday. Surveys tell us that the younger population of this country is trending in a progressive direction. And that turnout is also up among young people.
Why does that all matter in who I choose to support? Because of what Dot said to me that day. Remember, Reagan didn't just win, he moved the country's compass to the right for over 25 years. He captured that generation of voters. However anyone may feel about the Clinton presidency, it is clear that whatever progress may have been made came in the face of a headwind, and that much was left unaccomplished because of that same headwind.
Obama gets that. So does Kennedy. We are sitting on an historic opportunity to move the country back in a progressive direction. And Obama knows how to communicate like Reagan did, appealing to the better angels of our nature.
I would have preferred that Edwards had carried that banner forward. And he will, in some other capacity. (I'm thinking Supreme Court Justice, but that's grist for a different diary). But let's face facts. Edwards was overwhelmed, not just by money, but by the unexpected wave of passion upon which Obama has been riding. I have concluded that we would be fools not to seize the moment.
Hillary is the safer bet, I suppose. But she will bring along with her people's expectations of her. She can win. But she won't sweep others up along with her. (And, believe me, I have spoken to many conservatives who will consider Obama, if for no other reason than he's neither Hillary nor McCain.)
Let's not settle for just winning the White House back. Let's win back the hearts of the nation. As Dot showed me nearly a quarter of a century ago, once we have their hearts, they will trust us with their futures.
I will be voting for Barack Obama on April 22nd, in the Pennsylvania primary. I urge my fellow Edwards supporters who are voting on Super Tuesday to join me.