Saturday, October 13, 2007

John Edwards Unveils 'One Democracy' Initiative

So today after work I switched off the rock stations over to CSPAN RADIO on the way to the public library, there of course to have a full two hours of blissful tax-payer funded internet access. Why the free? Or I should point out, I pay taxes, so why reduced to the free? Although I had a laptop, my poor baby fell mortally wounded to ad-ware over a year ago, and a federal employee's salary holds no room for even refurbishment. To my delight I recognized the voice of John Edwards, who yesterday held a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire. I admit to having spent the last few weeks feeling a bit uninspired about 2008, despite the overall outlook for Democrats and working stiffs like myself. Politics is a cruel addiction, providing neither cute animal team mascots or cheerleaders, or a never ending supply of muscled young men in sports-bars on a Saturday night. Especially when you don't have a million dollars squirreled away in your sock drawer. Edwards is right; we don't have elections, we have auctions.

"The American people are sick and tired of business as usual. Lobbyists and the special interests they represent are pouring millions of dollars into the system, corrupting our democracy and stopping the change we need dead in its tracks. With all the money flooding into politics, you'd think that instead of holding elections we were auctioning our leaders off to the highest bidders. Our founding fathers intended our government to do the will of the people, but regular people can't afford a voice in today's pay-to-play Washington.

"It's time to put an end to the special deals enjoyed by lobbyists and insiders at the expense of regular Americans. We must strengthen voting and campaign finance laws and curb the influence of campaign contributions from special interests, so that everyone has a voice in the political process and the people decide who leads this nation."

I'm tired of the hype that the measure of being American is dying in a foreign war. We used to have these two twin holidays as a people: Memorial Day and Labor Day. These holidays honored the two strengths of our citizens, both the defense and the work of democracy. Now, Labor Day is a holiday where shoppers get discounts and specials, and visit obscene levels of cruelty against the common worker stocking the shelf and cooking their meals because they have to wait in a line. Edwards was right to talk about the point of being American, instead of spending time talking about what he would do if only he had been elected instead of Bush. Whatever happens, January 2009 isn't going to look a whole lot like October 2007. What makes an American an American? What should be the purpose of our government, the pampering of the uber-jet-setters or the concerns of someone who would like public transportation to be available to the working poor?

A little math: For an hour's commute and errands, my gasoline bill is about $200 a month. So far this year, the upkeep of my car has included repairs at almost 2/3 of my whole 2006 federal tax bill, and way more than both state and local tax bills. There is a federal program that would cover the $170 a month cost for me to take the DC Metro and the Maryland commuter train to work. But.. the trains don't run on schedules geared for the working poor who need them most. They run on schedules built for the upper middle class: 6AM to 10PM, Monday through Friday. I work Saturday and Sunday, one of the lots of anyone whose working poor. Even then, the local Amtrak honors the government vouchers for those days. Even if I got a tax-cut of 25% of my tax rate now, that would still be only be about $1200. Which is gas for only half the year, if they don't rocket towards the sky yet again. If there was a train, I would save double the ammount in cash, before car maitenence. Why would I vote for a tax-cut again? In essense, the working poor don't need tax-cuts, we need good government spending on social programs.

The White House Intel Report blogged live on Edwards' speach:

I’m watching his New Hampshire speech right now. It’s live, it is a beautiful speech about Democracy, the American dream and moral leadership. The man stands for a lot of what I believe in and I can’t see why he isn’t one of the top two political players right now. After listening to all of the candidates, I really believe John Edwards is the best candidate to push forth the message of Democrats. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who many liberals believe has sold out, he is sticking to his Democratic roots, he is catering to “the people” and looking after the little guy rather than sucking up to the wealthy corporations.

So I listened to the speach today, and without the benefits of notes (which at 65 mph on an interstate is a tad unwise), these are my impressions: The Federal TIPS program that I am a part of, which matches what I save if I put away 5% of my paycheck towards either a mortage or college, or as a form of disaster insurance, is a great idea for expanding into the working class. Who could not love this idea? Given that the resulting nest-egg will go into the economy in ways that will boost the American economy, while increased national savings should help keep down long term interest rates. (Yes, I'm reading Greenspan's book.) There will have to be national laws slapping down this payday lending industry and the resumption of usury practices by the credit lending industry. Television ads for political office as approved by the candidate will have to be divided equally between candidates. They encourage as much thought as a Kit-Kat bar commercial. Federal political office should not be influenced by lobby donations, and should require canadacies funded without K Street. Personal donations should be topped at $1,000. At that point, it's time to stop buying television ads and start talking to your friends and neighbors. That's how a democracy surives.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain recognized John Edwards as "A Blue Collar Candidate for a Blue Collar America!" MyDD blogger TomP applauds, noting that "And that is just what we need. For too long the rich have ruled our country, trampling our rights, and screwing workers right and left. No more. It's a damn good thing, because unless you are an owner, an investor of real money, not a 410K, but real money, we're all blue collar now. That's what Two America means." The AFL has a point that Edwards also echoed in New Hampshire. Unlike Clinton and Obama, Edwards beat the Red State party machine and got elected to the Senate. Democrats true blue to liberal ideas sell themselves and American short with the idea that what we need is a measurement of bank accounts in the Blue States. We do live in a Democracy, and as Edwards points out, there are liberals in Arkansas.

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