A vote for Edwards

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Christopher Cook, one of my predecessors as city editor of the Bay Guardian, sent out one of the more intriguing appeals that I've read today (among the many election eve missives that have been sent my way). It's a call to vote for John Edwards, even though Edwards dropped out of the race. While I still happily voted for Obama, I think Chris makes good points about the need to keep pushing the Democratic Party candidates to adopt more progressive positions, something that will become even more important in the coming months if Obama and Clinton remain neck-and-neck and we head into a brokered convention.

Dear Friends,
Please pardon this last-minute note on the elections, I hope you can take a
quick glance before heading to the polls.

Politics is about negotiation, leverage, power and ideas, among other
things. In my estimation, both Obama and Clinton have failed to exhibit a
strong consistent commitment to progressive ideas--and thus need to be
pressured on this front, and held as accountable as possible to progressive
ideas such as universal healthcare, strong sturdy anti-war policies, and
economic justice. Neither candidate (not even Obama, who has since voted for
war payments) has been clear and consistent on the war and when/how to end
it. Neither candidate has taken a strong clear stand on a universal
healthcare plan that truly breaks the insurance industry's hold over
America's healthcare system. To the extent that either has mentioned issues
of poverty and workers' rights, and corporate greed/power, it has been by
virtue of prodding by the Edwards candidacy. Both these candidates have
consistently shown they are willing to sell out progressive causes in the
name of power politics and centrism, or, in Obama's case, some vague appeal
to moderates and Republicans.

This is not an anti-Obama or anti-Clinton appeal; rather, I encourage you to
consider voting for Edwards tomorrow on the basis of representing
progressive ideas in the electorate, and sending as many delegates his way
as possible, in the hopes that he will be that much more empowered to exact
some pledges for his endorsement of either candidate.

I believe progressive ideas win only when they are strongly represented, not
when they are tucked in the back pocket and slipped in on the margins later,
if at all. Politics is largely about the bargaining and wielding of power
and ideas; you don't start the negotiation by bargaining away your ideals,
you start with your ideals and work back as little as possible. It may seem
that the pragmatic thing to do tomorrow is to support Obama or Clinton and
rally the party toward a quick nomination of one or the other; but if we
want progressive policies to be promoted by either of these two, they need
to hear from us -- and tomorrow we can speak through our votes by telling
both of them that they need to be more accountable to the progressive ideas
promoted by Senator Edwards.

Ultimately Democrats will rally behind whoever takes the nomination -- but
right now, in the primaries, this is an important time to impact not only
who gains that nomination, but what they say they stand for, and to whom
they are accountable. So I say let's bring a little pressure on these two
and vote for Edwards tomorrow -- and as his pile of delegates continues to
accrue, even at small levels, so will at least some small measure of
pressure for more progressive policies in the party platform.

Thanks for listening. Happy voting!