Sunday, February 3, 2008

Joe Donnelly on John Edwards

Donnelly summed up, in the last paragraphs from his article in the L.A. Weekly, my feelings exactly. We need a leader to take on obscene wealth and middle-class stagnation. Yet, any mention of the 800 lb. elephant (donkey?) in our national living room remains verboten. Class war fails-- who's going to underwrite your message to the media? This as I prepare to watch a Super Bowl that charges $3 million for a thirty-second spot, and I wonder how many Indian gaming commercials I will watch then-- the tribes for have spent $88 million of their tax-free gains so far and their opponents $25 million, the most expensive proposition battle not only in our state but probably in history. Our politicians grovel before the casino owners. They divide us in the name of diversity and unity. They need us and hate us.

Often I pick up the Weekly before an election to learn how not to vote, out of my contrariness with smug trustafarianism, but I did learn lots from this comprehensive issue-- especially that the editors must have had a staff meeting led by Laurie Ochoa's sudden decision to back Obama over Hilary that led to a mass trashing of Mrs. Clinton for her sins shared with Bill over their mud-slinging in South Carolina. And I note that Edwards unlike his two opponents did not take any lobbyists' money. That's why, of course, he dropped out. So our kleptocracy works.

Meanwhile, since I posted this morning, we're about to fill out our mail-in ballots for Super Tuesday, two of the nearly half of California voters doing so. Layne now's wavering away from Ms. Rodham towards Mr. Obama, while I am stuck with the Green ballot with anti-semitic manic Cynthia McKinney and perennial Pat Paulsen played by Ralph N. as the only two candidates I recognize among the anonymously stark raving loonies. The predictably idealistic party's too namby-pamby and sob-sister for me but out of stubborn protest against the two-party system and the need for a third party to have 100,000 registered voters to stay on ballots in The Golden State, I'm doomed. Also, in gerrymandered districts designed to churn out Latino Dems from the Eastside, that cynical, corrupt, and calculating corporate cash-flow machine does not care about me anyway. I'll probably just skip to the propositions as I often do in such situations.

Off to watch the Patriots with Niall and munch chips. His classmate's going to have a non-speaking role in a Super Bowl commercial. I save up the old Sunday papers to read during the games as my ritual. Too bad Niall's Packers lost. Which is why I cheer against the Giants-- whose dull logo I hate anyhow. Although I distrust teams named not after cities but states, too, come to think of it. At least neither are Sunbelt expansion teams! My populism, like Edwards' campaign coffer, only stretches so far.

All these missed opportunities have added up to years and years of public neglect of the state of our union. What were we thinking? Well, the answer is, we Dems don't think. We act emotionally, almost like children. We get swept up in things, like Ferraro's hair or Dukakis' Massachusetts Miracle, or whatever it was we liked about him.

And now, as I listen to Ted Kennedy in the background endorsing Barack Obama, talking about the new politics of hope and change and unity and about closing the door on the politics of fear and division, etc., I can feel it happening again. It's happening to me. The sweep of history is seductive. We're in a moment when a woman and an African-American are making real bids for the presidency of the United States, and you can bleat and protest all you want, but this moment, this momentum for Clinton and Obama, really is a lot about gender and race. And rightfully so. It's cool, man. It really is. I like it too. I want a woman and a black man as president, preferably a woman who is a black man. But then I realize that despite their power as metaphors, Clinton and Obama are politicians whose filthy-rich campaigns are stocked with money as dirty and loaded as any establishment politicians who have ever run. They walk in the door compromised.

And somewhere deep inside, I know this isn't about metaphors, or about unifying us (no one person can unify us). It isn't about empty Reaganesque catchwords like change and hope. No, as we head into a deep and structural recession brought on by the callousness, greed, incompetence and duplicity (permanent tax cuts and permanent war!) of the Bush years, I realize that this is about the same thing it was about when those steelworkers were jumping off bridges in my hometown — it's about economic terror and injustice in a land of winners and losers and very little in between. John Edwards really got this; did from the beginning. Too bad we didn't pick him.

Read all about it and much more at:

Image: / "1888 Populist Movement Cartoon: This political cartoon by C. J. Taylor comments on the workingman's protest against the high tariff making the rich richer and the low farm prices making the farmer poorer."

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