I decided this last week. Today I read Christopher Cook’s essay and he crystallized the reasons for my decision.
Politics is about negotiation, leverage, power – and, yes, ideas. In my estimation, Senators Obama and Clinton have failed to exhibit a strong consistent commitment to progressive ideas, and need to be pressured and held as accountable as possible to ideas such as universal healthcare, strong sturdy anti-war policies, and economic justice. The only sensible way to express that sentiment on Super Tuesday is to vote for Senator Edwards — and make the two would-be nominees fight harder for his endorsement and delegates. A vote for Edwards will also remind them that even if his candidacy is dead, the principles – and constituencies – his campaign represented are not.
Neither candidate has been clear and consistent on the war and when/how to end it (not even Obama, who has since voted for war payments). Both candidates’ Iraq pull-out statements remain fuzzy and ultimately non-committal. Neither candidate has taken a strong clear stand on a universal healthcare plan that truly breaks the insurance industry’s hold over America’s healthcare system. (Check out Paul Krugman’s astute critique of Obama’s healthcare plan versus that of Clinton, in which he points out: “the big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.” Not exactly what I’d call “progressive.”) To the extent that either has mentioned issues of poverty and workers’ rights, and corporate greed/power (which is to say hardly at all), it has been by virtue of pressure from Edwards’ candidacy.
This is not an anti-Obama or anti-Clinton appeal; ultimately I’ll line up like a good soldier behind either nominee to bring an end to this particularly vicious and damaging era of Republican executive power. Rather, I encourage voting for Edwards tomorrow on the basis of representing progressive ideas in the electorate, and sending as many delegates his way as possible, in the hopes that he will be that much more empowered to exact some pledges for his endorsement of either candidate. Otherwise, progessives who wanted a candidate who stands strongly on a range of key domestic and international issues will have no electoral means of registering their opinion.
Politics is largely about the bargaining and wielding of power and ideas; you don’t start the negotiation by bargaining away your ideals, you start with your ideals and work back as little as possible.
Progressive ideas win only when they are strongly represented — not when they are tucked in the back pocket and slipped in on the margins later, if at all. As Adolph Reed astutely pointed out in The Progressive magazine recently, we saw how well such hopefulness worked out in the first Clinton era (witness the “end of welfare,” early erosions of civil liberties under his counter-terrorism bills, rampant media consolidation, among other progressive fatalities). So-called “unifying” centrism – ably represented by both Clinton and Obama – never begets liberalism or progressivism.
It may seem that the pragmatic thing to do on Super Tuesday is to support Obama or Clinton and rally the party toward a quick nomination of one or the other; but if we want progressive policies to be promoted by either of these two, they need to hear from us — and we can speak through our votes by telling both of them that they need to be more accountable to the ideas promoted by Senator Edwards.
Ultimately Democrats will rally behind whoever takes the nomination — but right now, the primaries offer a critical moment to impact not only who gains that nomination, but what they say they stand for, and to whom they are accountable. So let’s bring a little pressure on these two and vote for Edwards tomorrow — and as his pile of delegates continues to accrue, even at small levels, so will at least some small measure of pressure for more progressive policies in the party platform. So, oddly, the best way to make your vote count tomorrow is to vote for the leading drop-out candidate, John Edwards, and send a message that both would-be nominees will have to hear.
Between Coke and Pepsi, I choose Edwards.
A vote for Edwards sends a clear message to Coke/Pepsi that we want REAL change not HALF-ASSED change. He can use his supporters as leverage to help push the issues just like he did when he was still in the race. And, if he gets 15% of the delegates, Edwards will be a king maker at the convention.
Edwards is way better on all the issues. That’s why, while he was in the race, Coke and Pepsi had to adjust their positions to be more in line with his but they are still off by a long shot.
I don’t like Coke or Pepsi for their ties to big business and for their FAILURE to expose the corporate corruption in our government. They should vow to return the government to the people and take corporate power out of our government.
I don’t like Clinton and agribusiness.
I don’t like The Audacity of Radioactive Poisoning and letting the industry police themselves.
I think Michele Obama was immature and showed a lack of judgment in saying she would “have to think about” voting for Clinton if she were the nominee. Elizabeth Edwards would NEVER say such a thing!
I don’t think you can read a book written as a campaign tool by a man who wants to run for president and glean any truth from such a book. Anybody can write a book and paint themselves in the best possible light.
Update: Delegate Tally Proves My Point