Redraw the map with Senator Barack Obama

Charlie Burr

Every four years, the phrase bounces around election eve phone banks across the country: "This could be the closest election in our lifetime."

But a close election is the wrong way to think about our chances next year. With the right candidate and the right message, Democrats can win and win BIG. That's one of the reasons I’m supporting Senator Barack Obama for President.

More than any other candidate, Obama represents the best hope to move beyond the “fifty-plus-one” parity elections of the last two Presidential cycles. There are partisan strategic reasons for redrawing the electoral map -– Republicans would rather compete on a polarized field –- but also more fundamental, patriotic reasons. Simply put, we can get more done when we’re not at each other’s throats.  And after eight years of inaction on our most critical issues, the next President will face unprecedented challenges, from climate change to health care to ending the war in Iraq.

Barack Obama is really the only candidate in either field who transcends a partisan filter. And here’s the thing: he’s not breaking through to Republicans, Independents, and Non-Voters by poll-driven triangulation or symbolic micro-issues, he's tapping into what David Kusnet calls "the lost art of speaking American." He's articulating a shared language of hope and opportunity while promoting our best progressive values.  And he's articulating thoughtful policy priorities that you can dig into over at Barack Obama.

For some candidates, working across party lines can become an end to itself. But throughout Senator Obama's career, he's worked with members of both parties to enact legislation to promote principled social change, improve people's lives, and reform our democratic process. In Illinois, he brought Democrats and Republicans together to require videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all death penalty cases.  He worked across party lines to expand children's health care, and in the U.S. Senate, he's the leading advocate for laws to crack down on Abramoff-style abuses.  Long before running for President, he helped pass the some of the most sweeping ethics reforms in Illinois history.

To some D.C. insiders, Obama's years of experience in the Illinois State Senate -- his work expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and expanding markets for clean energy -- don't really count.  But take just one of the critical issues facing our country: the fight for energy independence.  The progress we've made developing new sources of clean energy has been in spite of the federal government, not because of it.  The states, acting as labaratories of innovation, have been where the action is.  As a President with state legislative experience, Obama will take the best from the states to grow our biofuels sector, diversify our sources of home-grown power, and set our nation on a course that reduces global warming and creates a more sustainable economy.

A word about our changing media and political landscape: Next year will be unforgiving to candidates who come across too political, too slick, or too-clever-by-half.  (More than any one issue, this is really the ice on Gordon Smith's wings here at home.)  Voters sense Obama will look out for them, is in the race for the right reasons, and is the type of principled leader they trust in their gut. 

It is also my hope that the next election be about someting larger than school uniforms and micro-politics; we should have a debate about who's best suited to repair our country's standing in the world.  To date, Obama's the one who's captured the world's attention more than any other.  Imagine the goodwill we'll generate as pictures of Obama's first trip to Europe or Africa bounce around the world.

This year, we've got an unusually strong Democratic field, one of the best of my lifetime. John Edwards has dumped the consultants who advised him to support the war, and he's a much stronger candidate now without them. Hillary Clinton has assembled a truly talented and seasoned staff, but ultimately, she's the one on the ballot. Both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have learned from past mistakes.  Edwards' campaign continues to innovate, and Clinton's discipline continues to impress.

But Obama is getting it right the first time.  He's got the instincts, judgement and talent to take on our most challenging and complex problems.  He's running the type of campaign that'll help build a solid governing majority.  And he's the one best suited to repair our country's standing and moral authority in the world.

I had the opportunity to see Senator Obama a few months ago at a houseparty and rally in Tampa, part of the pivot swing area a campaign must win to take Florida.  I arrived undecided and left an enthusiastic supporter. Come check him out and judge for yourself tomorrow night at the Convention Center.  See you there!

  • Rep Chip Shields (unverified)

    Well put Charlie. Rep. Galizio, Rep. Cannon and I are all wholeheartedly supporting Obama. I am voting for him because he displayed the courage to fight for a fairer and more effective public safety system in Illinois. Plus, he's the only contender that was right about the war in Iraq from the beginning.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Plus, he's the only contender that was right about the war in Iraq from the beginning.

    Kucinich and Gravel also got it right, but perhaps by "contender" you mean "with a chance of winning."

    I have reservations about Obama, as I do about all the candidates, but one that struck me while reading the lead article was the promises being made by Obama and by others on his behalf.

    The Democrats essentially made promises of change before November 2006. They received their majority, but on the big issues that concerned many of the people who voted for them - war on Iraq, impeachment, surveillance, civil rights - it's essentially business as usual and with Nancy Pelosi the future will most likely be the same.

    It's too early for some of us to commit, but the odds are many of us are deciding on who should wear the anybody-but-Hillary mantle. I would prefer Kucinich, but he probably won't be viable especially with the media ganging up on him, so that leaves Obama and Edwards. Biden and Dodd? They're just in there in case Hillary needs a couple of bouncers to beat up on anybody challenging her. Richardson? Not after reading Greg Palast's "Armed Madhouse" and Richardson's recent statement about God ordaining Iowa to be first in voting for president.

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    God ordaining Iowa to be first in voting for president

    He must have "Field of Dreams" looping on the video monitors in his bus.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)

    Just so everyone knows, because of strong interest and ticket sales, the 8:00 p.m. event now has a 5,000 person capacity. They want to make sure everyone who wants to see Senator Obama gets to hear his speech tommorrow.

    And hats off to State Reps. Shields, Cannon and Galizio for standing up to support Senator Obama. Far far too many politicians in Oregon are holding their finger to the wind and looking for the "safe" endorsement. But we as voters appreciate those like these gentlemen who are not doing that.

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    "Far far too many politicians in Oregon are holding their finger to the wind and looking for the "safe" endorsement."



  • Miles (unverified)

    To some D.C. insiders, Obama's years of experience in the Illinois State Senate. . .don't really count.

    I'm no DC insider, but I worry about Obama's lack of federal and/or executive experience. It's not that his time in a state legislature doesn't count, but it doesn't count as much as experience as a Senator or a Governor would. Executive leadership is a difficult skill -- a much, much different skill than legislative leadership. Yes, George Bush was a governor so obviously that experience isn't guaranteed to make you a better president. But while many of Bush's failures are ideological, many of them are also management failures (Katrina being the prime example). What in Obama's life experience has given him the skills to manage the sprawling federal government and turn the ship in the direction he wants to go?

    As for foreign policy, what experience does Obama have? The first task of the next president will be to repair the damage of Bush's two terms. You say simply that his presence will generate goodwill, but that's a platitude. It took Bill Clinton two or three years to really get his bearings in foreign policy, and he came to the presidency with far more experience than Obama does. I'm not sure we have that kind of time.

    Obama is currently my second choice. If I can be convinced that his lack of experience won't be bad for the country, he could move into first. So far, I've seen great political skills, but not the kind of executive leadership skills that are required to be a really good president.

  • Big Barton (unverified)

    I must say that I am very pleased with our options for the Democratic nomination. I am leaning towards Obama, but I also like Clinton and Edwards. I would like to see Richardson or Biden break into the first-tier, but it appears that Richardson may have content himself with a VP nomination and that Biden missed his shot in '88.

    No matter what happens, the wave of Republican discontent with their field delights me.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Alternet has an article on the Democrats being on the brink of irrelevance. The reactions by the candidates to the Petraeus report will say a lot about them, including Obama. We should all pay very close attention. And ignore the spin.

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    Richardson's recent statement about God ordaining Iowa to be first in voting for president.

    Ahem, really? If you know Richardson, you know that the statement he made was a joke. In fact, he was doing something amazing: He was making fun of Iowa and their caucus... right in their face.

    Try it with a sarcastic inflection:

    "Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary..."

    See, it makes more sense now, right?

    Now, I'm supporting John Edwards - but I think Richardson is a good guy. It's his sense of humor that keeps getting him into trouble.

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    Was he also joking that being gay is a choice and that Whizzer White is his favorite Justice, having decided Roe v Wade sometime in the 80s? :)

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)

    In my view, Hillary and Edwards are in the same boat experience-wise with Barack, although each as their own points they can argue. I for one don't think first lady experience counts for "experience". I think Hillary is relying upon having Bill as an adviser, and so are here supporters.

    So the difference has to be which candidate has the most vision, the best judgment, and the most foresight. Barack Obama has been demonstrating that he is the one on these points since 2002 on Iraq and in his political writings.

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    Here's what Zbigniew Brzezinski said about Obama:

    Zbigniew Brzezinski said that Mr. Obama is “clearly more effective and has the upper hand.” The national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter continued, “There is a need for a fundamental rethinking of how we conduct world affairs, and Obama seems to me to have both the guts and the intelligence to address that issue and to change the nature of America’s relationship with the world.'’ He called Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy “very conventional.”

    I think Obama understands that we need to think differently about how conflict has changed. It's not superpower vs. superpower; it's hut vs. hut. Hillary criticized Obama for ruling out nuclear weapons if we located Osama bin Laden, but Senator Obama's position is just common sense. Hillary's approach here is antiquated, disproportionate, and contrary to our interests.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Ahem, really? If you know Richardson, you know that the statement he made was a joke. In fact, he was doing something amazing: He was making fun of Iowa and their caucus... right in their face.

    Apparently some people in Iowa didn't catch the joke either. But for the sake of debate, let's say he was making a joke. It is a risky business to make jokes that involve religion. Considering Richardson's past diplomatic achievements, this attempt at humor, if it was such, wasn't very smart. We've had one careless talking too many in the White House without replacing him with another.

    Now, what about the other part of my comment regarding Greg Palast's observations in "Armed Madhouse" about Richardson and the vote rigging in New Mexico? GOP functionaries rigged the system to exclude Native Americans and Hispanics (read Democrats) from casting votes or counting their votes if they were cast and Richardson (and Kerry) stood by and did nothing about it.

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    Obama in my view has more and more shown himself to be Clinton-style triangulator.

    He may have been right about the war to start with but he's become wrong since then. His position is indistinguishable from Clinton's & follows the DLC line.

    His extremely bellicose posture toward Iran ("nothing is off the table" -- in a context where the Bush administration has had tactical nukes ("bunker busters") on the table to attack Iran's uranium enrichment facilities and is conducting covert warfare inside Iran already -- is not acceptable to me.

    His suggestion of invading Pakistan in pursuit of Taliban/Al Qaeda forces is idiotic -- Pakistan is nuclear armed and any such actions increases the chances of a coup by pro-Taliban Pakistani security forces backed by extremist elements of the Pakistani populace.

    These positions are like John F. Kennedy's fictitious "missile gap" in 1959-60 -- posturing to look so-called tough that puts you in a position to get backed into corner by the right, a la Bay of Pigs.

    His positions on domestic issues are weak and lack content. On health issues he is far too pro-insurance industry & pro-big pharma.

    At this point I have somewhat reluctantly concluded to support Edwards, because his domestic policies are clearer and better. My reluctance is because he too has a worrisomely bellicose attitude toward Iran.


    I note the NONE of the major Democratic candidates have come out and explicitly said that they would actively work to reverse Bush's illegitimate power grabs for the presidency. Not sure about Kucinich. But NONE of the big three has said that so-called signing statements violate the oath to faithfully uphold the law. NONE has said that the "unitary executive" doctrine is extremist, unconstitutional claptrap.

    NONE has said that preventive war -- Bush's justification for invading Iraq -- based on vague possible future threat is a euphemism for illegal aggression, that they would not commit, and would reject because it could justify attacks on the U.S., since any number of countries now have quite real reasons to worry that the U.S. might attack them. ("Preventive war" is a term that does not exist in international law, differing from legitimate pre-emptive war against imminent threat).

    NONE has rejected Bush's claims in effect to be a military emperor who can do anything in the name of being commander -in-chief, and whose claims to prevent trials of violations of constitutional civil rights based on the "state secrets" doctrine will destroy judicial review if allowed to stand.

    In short, the really key issue in 2008 is the constitutional crisis the Bush administration has created with its power grabs, which the MSM has not recognized as such. NONE of the current major Democratic candidates has the statesmanship to identify and address the issue.

    Unfortunately the Republicans are as bad or worse.

    Perhaps one of the Dems will focus on reversing the Bush legacy, but right now the claim that Obama or anyone else is running on the really big issues is just not so.

    Assuming I won't have a major-party candidate to vote for on the issue of presidential power and not letting the Bush high crimes and misdemeanors stand as precedent, I would be tempted to abstain by voting for a minor party.

    Only the thought of John Roberts and Samual Alito will prevent me from doing so. If there is any hope of reversing the executive trashing of the Constitution & balance of powers, it apparently would lie in a future Supreme Court, since the Democratic leadership either does not recognize the severity of the national crisis, or is so small-minded as to put minor short-term partisan maneuvering ahead of dealing with it.

    The argument against impeachment hearings would carry a good deal more weight with me if the Democratic leaders and candidates were saying: Bush is an extremist on presidential power who has violated his oath of office in numerous ways, but voting him out is the more reliable way to reverse course and we will campaign explicitly on that issue. But they're not. They're saying there isn't really anything seriously wrong and the important thing is to show that Congressional Democrats can do everyday government business.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Only the thought of John Roberts and Samual Alito will prevent me from doing so. If there is any hope of reversing the executive trashing of the Constitution & balance of powers, it apparently would lie in a future Supreme Court, since the Democratic leadership either does not recognize the severity of the national crisis, or is so small-minded as to put minor short-term partisan maneuvering ahead of dealing with it.

    I agree for the most part with Chris's points above, but disagree with his point quoted above. "If there is any hope of reversing the executive trashing of the Constitution & balance of powers, it ... " will lie with the people.

    William Lederer wrote "A Nation of Sheep" in 1961 in another context saying "the responsibility lies --- with us, with our government, our press and ourselves." Very little, if anything, has changed since then. As a nation the people have responded, like sheep, to incessant calls to be consumers instead of citizens and to be loyal to political parties instead of the Constitution and Justice. Of Lederer's three groups, we can place little hope in our government, which has been bought by international corporations and their corporate lawyers in the supreme court. Nor can we expect anything of value from our press, which is in the final stages of consolidating into Orwell's Ministry of Truth, courtesy of the Clinton and Bush administrations.

    That leaves us, we the people. And there is little cause for optimism there. If the voice of an honest man or woman makes it through the mainstream media, the mass of people ignore that voice to listen to charlatans that tell them what they want to hear or will amuse them.

  • Ted Gleichman (unverified)

    Re experience and judgment: It's been reported that one of Obama's decision points on running was when his Illinois colleague Dick Durbin said, "Do you really think hanging around the Senate and casting another thousand votes over the next four years is going to make you more qualified to be President?" Short answer: Nope.

    That's a limited truth - Obama will learn and grow over the next four years, regardless of where he sits.

    But it is limited in precisely the way that the Washington media characterizes experience, which is simply a variation on horse-race reporting. Tallying up how long someone has been in some setting says nothing about their skills and moxie.

    One way I've heard to say this: How often do we see someone with 20 calendar years of experience who really only has one year's experience, repeated 19 times? (Take a moment to check off the names of several co-workers.)

    Another piece that plays to Obama's experience-and-judgment strengths is Tip O'Neill's dictum, "All politics are local." Most of the time, the decisions are made by the people in the room at the time. Obama's brilliance, charisma, and human understanding will put him in an excellent position on the myriad problems he'd face.

    And, lest we forget, as he put it, "Some of us knew from the start" that this war would be an abomination on every level. I appreciate Edwards' (apparently heartfelt) apology; I understand Clinton's (apparently effective) repositioning; I know some of the also-rans got it right too.

    But Obama stood up in opposition when many ambitious and frightened Washington Democrats cratered. (Drum roll in honor of the 23 Senators and 133 Representatives who voted no.)

    In the waning days of the Vietnam war, when public exhaustion and media boredom led many people to try to forget the daily horror and bloodshed, Father Daniel Berrigan said, "The War is still the first fact of life for living."

    I deeply appreciate the comments in this thread about the degradation of democracy and the deeper challenges those of us on the Democratic left are facing. But the Iraq War needs to continue as the first fact of politics this year and next -- simply because our actions are causing so much direct death and destruction.

    And this war is nowhere close to over. Who can best help lead us through the brutal thickets to come, domestically and internationally? My bet is on Obama.

  • Ted Gleichman (unverified)

    I slightly mangled the Daniel Berrigan quote, which I could not find a cite on, but which I remember clearly from my days as both a victim and a perpetrator of the Sixties:

    "The War is still the first fact of life for the living."

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    Point taken Bill. To me the court issue is a negative proposition -- I believer that continued Republican appointments to the Supreme Court are more likely to intensify the constitutional crisis than Democratic ones.

    However, I would also say that part of the point of trying to find ways to alert, energize and mobilize the people is to change the incentives and calculations that affect government officials and the press (perhaps more particularly editors/producers than frontline journalists, as it is the editors & producers who act as gate-keepers, decide on story inclusion, exclusion and placement, approve headlines etc. There was good journalism prior to the war powers resolution and the war. It just got buried while the sycophantic stuff led).

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    But Obama stood up in opposition when many ambitious and frightened Washington Democrats cratered.

    And when Israel invaded southern Lebanon and made it apparent they were committing war crimes, all senators (including the four running for president) approved of their actions.

    Of the candidates vying for president Dennis Kucinich was the only one to call for a cease fire when it was obvious to the rest of the world that Israel's attack was grossly excessive for what they claimed to be a cassus belli.

    That and the polls showing Kucinich has next to no support suggests that the Democrats are almost as much a war party as the Republicans.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    The qualifications for President are set out in the Constitution. A person is going to learn to be President by being President. There are no classes, it's not by being First Lady, Senator (x,y,z terms), State Legislator, Governor, CEO, or ad nauseum; it is about having core beliefs that work for America, it is about the ability to build a staff with those beliefs and skills to put them to work. It's about having a personality that allows one to work with people rather than dominate and marginalize. It is about an ability to reach out to the people of the US, not to lecture them, not to discount them, to connect.

    There's so much talk about "beauty contest" and then turn about and "beauty contest" resumes. Cripes. Guess what, nobody is pre-qualified to run a diverse nation of 300 million with the power to vaporize civilization. Let's step back and start looking at what do these people stand for, who do they attempt to reach out to? Who thinks they stand to benefit from their election? Deconstruct the media spin and take apart the campaign and try to reach the real person underneath all of it, that's a hell of a challenge, but the other stuff is just noise.

    Sure, look at their votes, look at the policies they've backed, since that's the actual measure of those items - but everyone of them has made stinking votes for reasons political, see what that means to you. To get this far and be taken seriously everyone of them has made political compromises, what can you live with?

    I don't like a single one of them on illegal immigration/illegal hiring - but I can't take any likely republican on darn near anything (including that). Richardson has "the resume" and Kucinich has "taking a stand". Hillary has "I could work with the Devil" and... you're going to have to go farther than these one dimensional views. Is this the most important election ever? Maybe. It is important. There are a whole raft of Constitutional issues out there and I'm hearing - squat.

    No, I don't like Hillary, but I'm still waiting...

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Well said, Chuck.

  • Miles (unverified)

    Sorry, Chuck, but experience matters. Someone can have all of the attributes you talk about and still be a shitty president, while someone else can have none of them and be an incredible president. The problem with our current nominating process is that it focuses on all the factors that don't matter (fundraising, appearance, fundraising, charisma, popularity, and fundraising) to the exclusion of the skills that do (executive management, negotiation, diplomacy, and leadership).

    You did mention staff, which is one of the most important factors. By looking at the people the candidates have surrounded themselves with, we can get an idea of who they'll put in place after they're elected. But the media doesn't cover that much so it's hard to get details. Did they reach out to experts, or surround themselves with friends and associates? Have they employed people with opposing views, or just sycophants?

    I think experience can be gained through a number of avenues, and some of those posting here have made good arguments about Obama's experience (I found Brzezinski's comments compelling). There is not one path. But I think it is foolish to discount experience and just say they'll learn on the job. What made Bill Clinton such a great president (moral failings aside) was his ability to see the big picture while understanding the policy details better than most people in the room. He also never lost sight of the fact that he's in charge of the largest bureaucracy in the history of the world, and you can only be a successful president if you harness the power of that bureaucracy and turn it in the direction you want to go. But Clinton also floundered for two years, and given the damage of Bush's eight years I'm not sure we have the time for a Democrat to get his bearings.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    "Sorry, Chuck, but experience matters. Someone can have all of the attributes you talk about and still be a shitty president, while someone else can have none of them and be an incredible president."

    And all the "attrubutes" of experience you talk about amount to exactly the same result as your own analysis. My point remains valid, the "experience" you tout doesn't even amount to training wheels on a bicycle, the leap from Governor of a 3rd rate State to President of the United States is so many orders of magnitude that you might just as well make the leap from a 100 employee S Corp. Of course, an ability to run a campaign counts for something, that's what experts are for, the ability to campaign is much more about personal attributes than it is about "experience."

    You reason backward from the reason people have the exposure to finance a run to set qualifications for winning votes, that's ludicrous. You are making a case that public notice defines qualifications. Why don't you folks explain to me in very small words just exactly what personal responsibility a Senator bears for their vote and its outcome? Being President has not squat to do with 1 vote of 100 or 1 vote of 435. Just exactly what responsibility to the voters does the First Lady have?

    None of what counts as President is provided soley by governmental elected office, it doesn't count there and it doesn't count in the Senate and it doesn't count in the House. The insistence that it does focuses on the very things that have often guaranteed failure in that office to represent the general welfare of the United States.

  • Miles (unverified)

    I don't think I ever made the argument that congressional experience was the be-all, end-all. I don't think it is, although it does give you exposure to the intracacies of federal policy and international relations more than, say, Illinois state senator. I think Governor of a large state is the closest you can get, and it's still a leap. And I would have no problem voting for a private sector CEO -- in fact, I might welcome it because I think executive management skills are some of the most important (yet underrated) skills a president needs.

  • Will Newman II (unverified)

    "That and the polls showing Kucinich has next to no support suggests that the Democrats are almost as much a war party as the Republicans."

    While some "progressive" Democratic Party candidates are lauded for their desire to end the war, the disscussion is framed along the lines of, "If we pull out now, the citizens of Iraq will be slaughtered in civil war, reprisals and partisan infighting. We can't leave now." as opposed to, "We are doing more harm then good by being there, the Iraq government is not working and doesn't look like it will for some time, we are losing too many of our soldiers, and it is too expensive." (Let's skip the discussion of how many soldiers should die or be injured, and how expensive a war should be.)

    Why is the discussion not about what will happen in Iraq if we "pull out" now versus a year from now, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? Unless we want to annex Iraq we will leave someday. It seems that the discussion ought to be when that should be - beyond simply, "Not now.".

    It seems to me that the Democratic Party, somewhere in the last 2 decades, did an analysis something like this:

    The Republican Party is moving farther and farther to the right. We can be the party for everyone who is not so far right so long as we are to the left of the Republican Party, no matter how far right we move. Therefore, we will get more and more conservative, so long as we are always less conservative than the Republican Party. We will appeal to more and more people and will win elections. To insure that we are the only alternative, we must do all we can to supress third parties and their candidates and non-affiliated candidates at every level.

    It didn't work for some time, but it now seems to be an accurate analysis.

    Sort of like, if you have a choice between cutting off two fingers or three, losing two fingers looks pretty good.

    Then there are those pesky "independents" whose voices in the wilderness keep trying to remind us that we really don't need to lose any fingers at all. We call them "spoilers."

    As had been said here and other places, the Democratic Party leaders abdicated responsibility for addressing the major issues of the last election by taking impeachment off the table even before the election, and by wimping out on funding for the war. (Congress: Here is funding for the war, but we insist on a timetable. Bush: No! Congress: OK. Here is funding fopr the war without a timetable.)

    As far as I know, no one but Kucinich is even beginning to address the constitutional crisis engendered by the Bush administration.

    To say nothing of universal health care.

    And then there are those other little challenges: global warming. An economy based on unending growth is physically impossible, but the basis of Western Civilization. How will we respond to the end of cheap, abundant, dense, portable fuel? (No one in the discussions I have seen even hint that perhaps we shuold use a lot less fuel. The discussions seem to center around alternative sources.)

    And, of course, the elephant in the room: population. No matter how "efficient" we get, no matter how much we reduce our "footprint", continued growth at any rate will eventually outstrip the Earth's resources.

    Not to mention the underlying fact that as we convert agricultural lands to housing and other "denser" uses, we become increasingly unable to feed the world. While there are cultures not based on agriculture, all civilizations are agriculture dependent.

    As has been stated above in other posts, if the major parties require that a potential candidate compromise away these basic issues in order to gain the support of the party, perhaps it is time for radical (meaning at the root) change.

    I am really tired of people who seem to think that Democratic candidates have some kind of right to the votes of everyone who is not a far right conservative. That somehow those of us who work to get better Democratic candidates past the Democratic Party censors and press bias so they can actually run as Democrats are somehow foolish when, after the Democratic Party again selects the "electable" compromised Democrat as the party's candidate, we vote for an independent.

    The quote (I apologize for not remembering the source): "The lesser of two evils is still an evil."

    Wouldn't it be nice to vote for candidates who were actually FOR something, instead of those who were simply not as bad as the other candidate? (Why do you suppose all those ads that we rail about focus on bashing the opposition?)

    When (if ever) will the Democratic Party adopt a clear position again? We need strong statements of principle and specifics of programs, and we need them now. The Democratic Party has been totally inadequate in presenting a real alternative to the Republican Party. "Not as bad as the other guy" is not a principle or program.

    Independent candidates arise in response to the unmet needs of the populace. why do you suppose that there are more registered voters who do not vote that the number of people who vote for the winning candidates?

    As an aside, when will organized labor realize that they can determine who gets elected, if they would get it together and actually represent their members and mount a nationwide, strong, loud, reasoned campaign in support? Even an independent candidate!

    Then again, the essence of democracy is the right to be wrong.

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