Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Edwards Makes It Plain (Yet Again)

John Edwards this morning on ABC's This Week:
STEPHANOPOULOS: [H]ere's what [The Des Moines Register] said in the editorial this morning [endorsing Senator Clinton]. They noted that they endorsed you four years ago, but then they went on to say this: "We too seldom saw the positive optimistic campaign we found appealing in 2004. His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change."

How do you answer that charge?

EDWARDS: [T]hey have a position. I respectfully disagree with it. I think that if we're going to have serious change in this country, universal health care, attacking global warming, a tax policy that works for most Americans instead of just a few, a trade policy that creates jobs instead of costing jobs, I mean, all those things are going to require us to have a president of the United States who's tough and willing to fight these powerful corporate interests that stand between us and the change that we need.

And I think the notion that you can sit at the table and negotiate and compromise, and these powerful interests will give away their power, I think is a fantasy. If it were true, it would have been working over the last few decades. And it does not.

I think we have a huge fight, an epic fight on our hands against those powerful interests, not against politicians. Nobody cares about politicians fighting. But I think we need a president who's tough enough to take these people on and win, and I've been doing it my whole life.

An epic fight on our hands, indeed. And our media leets want to whine about Edwards being "too negative"? Edwards, while not perfect, has been my candidate from the beginning, and never more so than now. I don't think he's going to get the nomination anymore. It's, you know, a bummer. Sorry if that seems too negative. I wonder if there is literally any way to demand accountability from those who have directed and benefited from the catastrophic politics of incumbency that won't seem to them too negative? (That's a rhetorical question: The answer is: No. That's what Edwards is saying, and that's why I fear he is losing everywhere but in the Netroots.)


Greg in Portland said...

I think the media leets are partly just echoing the general mentality of the culture. Americans in general seem attracted to Pollyanna views of everything. Partly I think this is what drives climate change denial. A huge change of the magnitude predicted by climate models just can't be happening, therefore it isn't. Then you get people mindlessly saying "America's #1" even when it clearly isn't in more and more ways. The US simply can't be inferior to other countries, therefore it isn't. And on it goes. Frankly, I'm less and less convinced that this will ever change barring some huge disaster (which may be in the offing with peak oil and currency collapse, not to mention the effects of any future attack on Iran). A major crisis might have some good effects, after all the chaos anyway, in getting Americans to take seriously that problems can't be wished away. Then again they could just go full bore fascist. Most of the US isn't far from it right now.

I too like Edwards but he's getting called (rightly) for his mansion and lifestyle. I know that right now you need to be a multimillionaire to run but he would impress a lot of the working class that he's appealing to if he moved into a modest 3/2 and gave the profits from selling the mansion to a homeless charity or something.

Dale Carrico said...

Look, I get the hypocrisy charges, I really do, but doesn't it ever occur to anybody that in a world run by rich assholes the demand that everybody who sees the obscenity of this state of affairs has to relinquish almost all the tools available to fight it lest the focus shift instantly from the evil they fight against to their inability to miraculously live according to the ideal non-existing world they actually have the good sense to be fighting for?

Again, I don't mean to make excuses, I don't doubt there are bad specific choices being made, blah blah blah, but honestly every celebrity who disapproves of poverty becomes a story about their wealth despite the fact that poverty is a problem and they are actually fighting to solve it, every millionaire candidate who is a fighting liberal for labor and against corporations becomes a story of their privileges, every person struggling for Green causes becomes a story about how the fight itself contributes to environmental problems, and so on.

These are distractions, efforts at demoralization. Again, I don't discount the force of your point: both parties are too much in the tank, green discourse is incomparably vulnerable to greenwashing, organized labor is as apt to act like an organization as any other, etc etc etc.

But defeatism only serves evil (take that all you folks who keep accusing me of negativity!), it's too easy to become so smart you're stupid (arguing with technophiles has taught me this lesson in spades), it's useless to go from denial to despair (as Gore likes to put the point).

Definitely it's wrongheaded to pine for some cleansing disaster -- do something, do something, do something! Americans are in denial only because they can be. They inhabit a bubble of privilege based on luck, innovation, conquest, cheap resources, incomparable engines of exploitation, and they ignore unpleasant consequences and never pay the true costs of what they do... because they don't have to. The bubble is bursting already -- planetary p2p will burst the bubble before energy descent does, it's already happening, green politics will not only struggle to solve the problems of extractive-industrial civilization but will provide the cover for the necessary dismantling of the corporate-militarist neoliberal order in a world where US military has been exposed as a sham, medical advances will seduce majorities into social democracy.

All that depends on democracy beating corporations. All the terror bs and clash of civilizations bs is a cover story to dupe majorities into siding with corporations against their own interests.

In the case of Edwards, I think he is the best candidate in every area that matters, he seems closest to a Presidential figure who grasps the essentials and remains electable, whatever that's supposed to mean. I think his career has been one long committed to good things and long has shown a trend toward progressive improvement (I haven't liked him on foreign policy but I don't like anybody else more), I think he is the best we can do at the moment. We should be supporting him with our money, our time, our attention, and so on (I am). The Netroots is already on his side, the convincing needs to be directed outward to our family friends and so on.

And lest I be accused of confusing presidential politics for politics proper, believe me, the thing that makes me most hopeful is p2p organizing, contribution aggregation, rapid pushback, early warning, protesting and so on -- nudging the whole discourse leftward (where it always was for the people, and where people-powered politics obviously takes it in consequence), organizing the left wing of the possible, demanding accountability, offering up solutions the pampered Villages fail to grasp in their parochialism. We will democratize the party and the presidency, and Edwards seems not such a bad person to ride that wave.

Greg in Portland said...

Well I never said I didn't support him or thought he should give away his wealth. I was thinking more along the lines of downsizing the lifestyle while keeping most of his money as a show of solidarity with those of us who don't get to live in houses the size of small airports. I admit I have a special hatred of oversized housing. I see too much of it climbing the mountainsides near Portland and in winter always think of all those heating kilowatts blasting CO2 into the atmosphere. All in all though Edwards is as good as they get in the current corporate age. His rhetoric about "taking on" the corporations even surprised me a bit. The last politician I can think of who talked like that was FDR. Of course whether he will follow through remains to be seen and he probably won't get the chance.

Dale Carrico said...

I'm definitely with you on the craptacular monster house phenomenon, actually.