The “Edwards Primary”

rundown-banner.jpgJohn Edwards officially dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, giving his concession speech in New Orleans in a neighborhood destroyed by Katrina. Behind him they were fixing houses, or constructing new ones from scratch. For awhile, New Orleans had provided the perfect backdrop for the Edwards message, a sense that we were recovering from what was lost on Bush’s watch. But like most poetic political landscapes, it’s spirit eventually was betrayed by the words spoken in the foreground.

I wasn’t upset at Edwards for dropping out, but was disturbed deeply by his refusal to endorse anyone–seemingly an insinuation that Obama and Clinton are interchangeable. Edwards is familiar with Hillary Clinton’s style, her voting record, her ties to Wall Street money and other moneyed interests. He realizes also that Obama received support from influential labor unions, and from organizations that needed someone to defend the middle-class. Many of these endorsements went Obama’s way not because he was the candidate most committed to their plights, but because he had the best chance at defeating the woman who is indifferent to them.

What are we to make of Edwards’ non-decision to endorse Obama heading into Super Tuesday? He stated that both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have assured him personally that they will now make poverty their central concern for the rest of their campaigns and, if elected, for their presidencies.

That’s it? Hillary gives him her word–mere lip-service–and he takes it at face value?

What else did he expect her to say? “No thanks, John. Please tell your supporters they should all vote for Barack. As an honest, ethical human being, I cannot in good conscience ask those hardworking voters to cast a ballot in my favor, knowing that my plan is to continue the Bush doctrine of fucking them over.”?

No, of course not. She’s going to continue doing what she’s always done. In his decade of working closely with her, Edwards should have noticed that Hillary will do or say whatever she gets votes–cry, flipflop, you name it. And now that a former top-tier candidate has just dropped out of the race, leaving 15% of Democratic votes up for grabs, poverty and the middle-class are obvious her new order of the day. Her corporate sponsors probably even gave her their blessing: “Say what you need to say, Hillary, whatever rounds up those middle-class votes. Just promise us you have no intentions to keep your promises.”

Edwards in New Orleans

Chris Matthews was right today, when he anticipated that we’ll be treated to an “Edwards primary” over the next few days. Obama and Clinton will be in order to earn his endorsement, falling over each other to see who can sound more like Edwards. The former Senator has more than enough experience to understand the responsibility that comes with the position he now finds himself in. Depending on how tight he is with with his ex-supporters, Edwards may be in a unique position to steer the race in favor of one candidate or the other. If he truly cares about his supporters, he should shoot straight with them about which of the remaining candidates gives less of a fuck about them. These next few days will be crucial, as Edwards backers’ decide who is their second choice. Why wouldn’t he put in his $.02 on their behalves?

Did he really care about ordinary Americans? Or was Edwards bullshitting us all along? Was it simply that “we the people” occupied the final niche that remained unspoken for, influential in our voting power, if not in donor potential.

Obviously, both Democratic candidates will be kissing the middle-classes’ asses for the next few days. But what should that matter? All of it will be fake. Edwards knows this; many voters do not. And so ultimately their support will lean toward whichever candidate busts out the more creative populist song-and-dance this week.

What is Edwards’ waiting for? A V.P. invite? He knows where Hillary’s loyalties ultimately reside. Why is he tacitly supporting her?

Edwards concluded today’s concession speech with his familiar rhetoric. He talked about the homeless people he met under the nearby bridge, and about the working class lady who feeds them everyday; he talked about some guy’s arm getting blown off in Iraq and our stingy government refusing to replace it; the clef-lipped guy who waited fifty years to speak; people with ambition and potential who can’t quite make the pieces fit; people like me.

“I will not forget you. I will make sure that your voice is heard. I will never stop fighting for you.”

Then he exited the stage, this candidate we had trusted for awhile, presumably to hammer nails inside the hopeful houses over his shoulder.

Maybe it was all just a Hollywood set; the houses, props to be disassembled shortly; the guys who looked like Louisiana carpenters, campaign interns who boarded buses to Clinton headquarters when the cameras cut away. Or maybe everything was real about the scene except the influential politician’s heart.

There are no top-tier candidates for me now. If Edwards keeps sucking up to Hillary I’ll know there never were. And that will beg the question, one I’ll have to ponder long and hard as I decide whether to vote for the charismatic Obama or move to Canada: is it wrong to feel inspired by empty charisma?

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~ by Matthew Frederick on February 1, 2008.

13 Responses to “The “Edwards Primary””

  1. First of all, I don’t believe Obama is empty charisma–if you need more of the nitty-gritty on his policy proposals, I’m sure you can do the research. I cannot for the life of me understand why Edwards has not already endorsed Obama, given how opposed Edwards is to most of what Hillary Clinton has been. I’m sure his supporters would want some indication of which of these two candidates he seems to have more trust in. I’m now becoming suspicious of Edwards–thinking perhaps he wants to wait and see who is likely to win after Tuesday, and then throw his support behind them…unfortunately for him, this makes no sense, because at that point, he won’t have as much influence as he holds at this point. So, really I don’t know what the hell he’s doing or why he’s even doing it.

  2. Until there’s a real choice of candidates (more than two, perhaps at least 8 or 9 to choose from) it’s all the same BS.

    I’m reading a book about the Medici family starting around the 1400s.

    Nothing in life between workers and regular folks and the rich has changed since then. Reading that time in History makes it all the more obvious.

    Hence my outward stance on not saying much on the subject, since most of us out here feel the same about the way the World has been spinning for awhile.

    Cheers Fairlane and Muchas Gracias (in case I need to bone up on my espanol for the future) for stopping by!

  3. I feel your pain as it is mine as well. The capitalists controls the government and they are the richer for it. Real democracy, at least as we have known it in the past, died the day the Supreme Court so obviously handed Bush the presidency the first time around.

  4. I’m not sure who he’ll endorse,but I have the feeling it will be whoever he thinks has the best chance of winning. I have the feeling John wanted to watch the debate and see how the votes seemed to swing. I’m also not sure why you think that John Edwards hates everything Hillary stands for. John Edwards is pretty good friends with the Clinton’s, he mentioned that himself about a month ago. I don’t think he’ll base his endorsement on friendship, he’ll base it on the issues. He likes Hillary’s health care plan, and that may swing his endorsement to her….but I’m not sure. I’ll lay odds we’ll hear on Monday that he’ll endorse one of them.

    Either way, even though I like John Edwards, I won’t let his endorsement sway me. I like to make up my own mind and don’t need John Edwards or anyone else telling me who is better. I think I’m smart enough to figure it out on my own.

  5. Well, after the last post I did on Edwards. I know to just let him be, and not say a thing.

    I cannot believe how I offended so many were about what I thought of his campaign.

  6. Barack Obama, eh? Fair enough. I have two words for you: PAT & ROBERTSON.

    Clinton’s fine by me but what was wrong with Dennis Kucinich again? I am not inspired by some aristocratic putz who makes grandiloquent speeches and knows ni la fucking pinga de public policy, let alone the economy, of foreign affairs.

    I couldn’t have imagined a more inspiring candidate than Dennis Kucinich. I guess it’s a function of my having become middle-aged suddenly but I remember when I was 18 and Dennis Kucinich was considered almost as promising a young Democrat as Obama is today. Kucinich himself was all of 28. Mayor of Cleveland and he threw his whole career away on a point of principle: fighting the power monopoly to keep electricity and home heating prices at a reasonable “cost-plus” level. This was perceived by the Slavic machine that got him there as a betray of them in favor of Cleveland’s majority Black population. The machine and Kucinich’s family and friends abandoned him for Voinovich and it was 20 years or so in the wilderness for Dennis but he kept fighting and never changed his progressive prinicples.

    It’s not that Kucinich didn’t inspire people. He never got a chance because he’s short and has a thick Cleveland accent and non-descript Slavic face. Obama is bien-pretty. And that says it all.

    Kucinich is a man. Obama is some kind of android made of neoprene designed by the DLC. He can sell despair to a Russian, though, I’ll give him that.

  7. i dont know what to think of this — is he trying to play kingmaker? pitching for another job? sitting it out until 2012? standing on principal? or generally doesnt know which one?

    regardless — let people make up their own mind – i would hope they could. i like edwards, he had my vote — but if he endorsed hillary, it wouldnt make me vote for her at all.

    i always wonder about this whole endorsement process and the true value of it. but what do i know?

  8. How do you know it is “empty charisma”?

  9. As an Edwards supporter, I was so sad to see him go. And I must say that I am awash in ennui over who to vote for on Tuesday.

    So that makes it not too hard for me to see why he did not endorse either.

    As for his ambitions and for behind the scenes political machinations… Not that I am a cynic, but I am realist. Of course they exist and he and all others are sadly subject to them by their own choices.

    The ones who are not subject to them are the Dennis Kucininch and Ralph Naders of the world, for good or ill.

    I do sound awfully cynical. However, mostly I am just sad.

  10. I “Hope” Nader runs again. I feel absolutely zero guilt voting for him.

    To paraphrase Nader (In reference to the accusation he was undermining Gore in 2000)- If he can’t beat that dumbass, that’s his own damn problem.

    Democrats are in on it folks, I know people don’t like the Truth, but that’s the truth. Look back over the last 30 years. The Wingnuts could not gain the power they have without, at the very least, the Democrat’s tacit permission.

    The thing that galls me is, people know the Two Party System is utterly corrupt, but they continue to support candidates that are chosen for them instead of by them.

    Can someone tell me why Kucinich or Keyes or Paul or Gravel or any of the other candidates “Can’t Win” again?

  11. If this were a parliamentary system, a mixed system or a democratic republic in the style of modern Latin America, Kucinich, Gravel, Paul, Keyes and Tancredo would have been able to stay in a relatively short race for head-of-state all the way, and while politics does tent to regress to the mean, obey the Central Limit Theorem, etc., they’d have a say in the government as LOSERS anyway. Even under the U.S. system were there public financing or merely just an “impartial” MSM then all should be able to take at least one delegate to the conventions and trade and deal until choices are made.

    In that way, the US would get the centrist cadidate they want to president but nobody would have a reason to stay away because a very broad range of ideologies would all have weight. No vote would be WASTED.

    Of course, the Democrats are complicit in maintain the status quo of the two-party system. Why wouldn’t they? They are one of the two parties!

  12. furthermore, FAIRLANE, I think we all do a pretty good job of commentary but everywhere else but the USA there are daily newspapers that represent views across the spectrum or perhaps have an electorate that is sophisticated enough to have setttled the social issues which bedevil America so the POV is a little narrow but the terms LEFT, CENTER-LEFT, CENTER-RIGHT and RIGHT have MEANING. UK is perfect example: GUARDIAN, INDEPENENT, TIMES, TELEGRAPH with MIRROR v SUN in the tabs. Israel has a great left-wing paper, Ha’aretz and a great right-wing paper, The Jerusalem Post. And I love the way the Spanish and Italian hard core left-wing papers have great sports sections.

  13. I think there should be a different system in the U.S. for electing Presidents…instead of one election in the fall, where the one person who gets the most votes (or most electoral votes, anyway) wins, there should be the possibility of a runoff election if no one candidate gets a majority. That way, the Naders or Bloombergs or perhaps Kucinich’s and Pauls of the world could run too and we’d at least have our opportunity to vote for who we really believe in; it might change the dynamics considerably. Right now I feel a vote for a Nader or other third-party candidate is totally wasted and would result in a Republican win (god forbid) – but if there were the possibility of a runoff it would change everything. San Francisco does this for their City Supervisory race, why not the rest of the country?

    Regarding Edwards, perhaps he is waiting to see what will happen and perhaps wait till the convention to release his delegates?

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