Sunday, February 10, 2008

Loved Edwards? Vote for Obama

The day before Barack Obama fought Hillary Clinton to a draw on Super Tuesday (or by some calculations, actually won decisively), Ben Carter and Joe Sonka of BlueGrassRoots wrote a brilliant analysis of why Edwards supporters should change their allegiance to Obama.

There's a lot of crap on the Internet right now from fanatic Clinton and Obama partisans, as well as the usual gag-making pablum from the usual DLC mush-mouths.

This, however, is the kind of sharp, clear, make-no-bones endorsement that once upon a time graced the nation's finest newspapers. It strikes the perfect balance between practicality and idealism, avoiding both cynicism and cult hysteria.

I trust Ben and Joe will forgive me for excerpting most of their post here, because it's just too well-written and closely reasoned to edit.

(Excerpt after the jump.)

We believe America has a fight on its hands. Entrenched powers have trillions of dollars riding on maintaining the status quo and if Americans want cleaner energy, more wholesome food, safer and cheaper prescription drugs, and a health care system that treats all of us like we’re human beings, well, we’re going to have to fight for it.

In this Democratic primary, there have been two (viable) candidates that have advocated for these changes—John Edwards and Barack Obama. The difference between them, from what we can tell, came only in their envisioned means of change. As John Edwards said, “(Obama) believes you can create change by bringing everyone to the table and talking about it. That drug companies and energy companies will voluntarily give up their power. I don’t think it works that way. I think we’ve got a fight on our hands.” Amen.

With John Edwards out of the race, we turn to Barack Obama. We are hopeful, especially because of something he said after the New Hampshire primary. In response to John Edwards, he said, “I believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, including drug companies and energy companies. But that doesn’t mean you let them buy every chair.”

This rhetorical flourish provides an appropriate transition to the other reasons why we are supporting Obama, some principled, others pragmatic. First, the man can inspire. Wow! We see in Barack Obama the same kind of transformative political figure for the Democratic Party as Ronald Regan was for the Republicans. We believe he has the ability to forge a new American majority and achieve change, not through half-measures, triangulation, and compromise, but by inspiring the American people to demand the kind of fundamental change we need. Instead of doing only what is politically possible, we believe he can expand the field of what is possible by tearing down fences on the political landscape so long established others accept them as natural.

Second, Barack Obama was right on the war. He was right in 2002 and he’s right today. The war in Iraq has been America’s greatest foreign policy disaster in a generation and enabling it is the Democratic Party’s great shame. Related to this issue is America’s desperate need to restore its image abroad. To use the language of Madison Avenue: we have a branding problem. We believe Barack Obama can enunciate to the world a vision that resonates across cultures, across nations, and across religions. Amen.

Third, we mentioned some of our reasons were pragmatic. Above, we spurned the cynical view that politics was the art of the possible. However, the tension in politics must always be between that cynicism and idealism. We temper our idealism with pragmatism. We may support Dennis Kucinich, but we could never support him. Our support of John Edwards stemmed in part from our desire to have a candidate who could put all fifty states into play for the Democrats. We believed a John Edwards candidacy could have reclaimed part of the South for Democrats, and a strong Southern Democrat would certainly have made life more difficult for Mitch McConnell in this fall.

While we are reticent to use a term crafted in the bowels of the DLC—electability—at this point it would be foolhardy not to look at the dynamics of the race ahead. It is clear to us that the Republican’s only hope of retaining the White House is John McCain. They seem to be figuring this out, as well, and we presume he will be their nominee this fall. Against McCain, we believe Barack Obama is our only chance.

A Clinton/McCain duel would be fought along conventional lines with conventional weapons and we believe McCain wins that duel. Hilary Clinton is too polarizing to inspire, too entrenched in traditional political calculus to adapt, and too wedded to big business to convincingly articulate a different vision for America. Against McCain, we will need someone who can change the political calculus and inspire new alliances.

Barack Obama, his communications staff, and his campaign managers have demonstrated a remarkable ability to craft a message that endeavors to create new political realities. This work requires courage, creativity, and conviction, all of which Barack Obama has in abundance. BlueGrassRoots is proud to endorse Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.