Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Edwards Declares War On Hope (and it's about time)"

Blue Hampshire:
You want to know what a preemptive strike on the Obama candidacy looks like? Here is it is, textbook perfect, from John Edwards himself. Today, standing in front of a sign asserting "Tomorrow Begins Today" he stated:

"Identifying the problem and talking about hope is waiting for tomorrow."

And in perhaps the most brilliant framing I've seen in this campaign so far, he began to weave a theme into the rest of the remarks: There's hope, and there's action. I'm action.
Examples? Well, perhaps you were waiting for the Federal Government to raise the minimum wage. Not Edwards. He is fresh off a campaign to raise the minimum wage state by state, and has had success so far in six states. He has worked with organizing unions.

It continues. Asked what he will do about issue X, the response is invariably twofold. First, let me tell you what we are already DOING, and second let me tell you what we all can do, with or without me.

And it comes back to us as well. "What are you all doing about it?", is a question he's not shy about asking. We've got to invest in renewables, but we also have to conserve. We have to address economic injustice, but we can start by organizing, and getting laws passed on the state level. Don't wait for me in the White House in 2009. And for God's sake, don't talk about hope. Do it, now, today.

Edwards, in an unorthodox move, is not asking you to join a campaign. He is asking you to join a movement.

And in perhaps the most unorthodox but also most intriguing message, he is saying that he plans to use the power of his campaign to get stuff done before 2008. That's right. He wants to use his campaign to get things done.

I am still processing this, thinking of historical parallels, and trying to figure out how he believes his campaign will push political change before the general election.

And I'm still really blown away by the uniqueness of his voice in this field. This is not the "I can win the South" Edwards we knew in 2004. This is Edwards as Community Organizer (and yes, the irony of that when Obama is in the race is not lost on me).

I've seen some press on Edwards and the poverty focus, remarks on Edwards and Gay Marriage, remarks on this or that regarding the Iraq War. I think all these miss the most interesting point about his campaign.

Asked by a blogger from Below Boston whether he planned to run a grassroots campaign, Edwards said yes, but it was much bigger than that, because grassroots activism is woven into the DNA of everything they are doing.

That claim is either bullshit, or it's the most essential thing he said today, something beyond the issue matrix. I don't know which it is yet. But I'm hoping we can find out.

So help me out in the comments...Edwards, Man of Action? Or simple pose?

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