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Posted by Time for change in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Jun 13th 2008, 05:58 PM
According to polls, Edwards' addition to the Obama ticket as VP nominee makes a huge difference in numerous swing states, suggesting an Obama/Edwards ticket would win in a landslide.
When history judges us, as a nation and as individuals, it will ask: what did we do to end poverty? How we answer this call will forever define us as a nationJohn Edwards

A few days ago I posted an essay on DU advocating Barbara Boxer as the Democratic nominee for Vice President. I was surprised to find that one of the most frequent objections to that idea was that she is “too liberal” – or more accurately, that she would be perceived as being “too liberal”. Probably most DUers who expressed that objection are liberals themselves, but they are afraid that the perception of a “too liberal” VP on the Obama ticket would hurt our chances of taking back the White House.

The reason that I bring this up in a post where I discuss the value of having John Edwards as the VP nominee is that I foresee many DUers objecting to him for the same reason (“too liberal”) – so I want to address that issue first. I proposed Senator Boxer as a great choice based mainly on three issues that I consider to be of overwhelming importance: Her efforts to protect our Constitution, including her public advocacy of impeachment (scroll to top) of George Bush; her consistent and forceful opposition to the Iraq War; and her staunch support of fair and transparent elections, as demonstrated by her being the only U.S. Senator to officially object to the results of the 2004 Presidential election, and her co-sponsoring of the Count Every Vote Act.

The primary issue that characterized John Edwards’ campaign for President, in both 2004 and 2008, was the reduction and elimination of poverty in our country. That, of course, is a liberal issue, and it is the main reason why he was my favorite candidate for President once it became evident to me that Kucinich had no chance.

It is true, of course, that our useless corporate news media would portray both Barbara Boxer and John Edwards as ultra-liberals if either one received the nomination for VP – just as they always do with Democratic candidates (you may recall that John Kerry was touted as “the most liberal U.S. Senator” in 2004, as Obama is now in 2008). How would they go about doing that? They would do it the same way that they always do it – simply by repeating it over and over again.

How about if they decided instead to paint Boxer and Edwards as ultra-liberals by actually talking about their stands on major issues – that is, by talking about Boxer’s opposition to the Iraq War, her efforts on behalf of election integrity, and her opposition to George Bush’s repeated violation of our laws and Constitution, and Edwards’ plans for eliminating poverty, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, or making good quality health insurance available to all Americans? No, I don’t think they’d want to go there, as they are well aware that most Americans are with Boxer and Edwards on these issues. So instead, they would simply repeat the word “liberal” whenever referring to Boxer or Edwards (and Obama too, of course), and hope that it sticks – just like they would do with any Democratic candidate for President or VP.

But I think that the American people are catching on to that disingenuous game, and our corporate news media is losing their credibility. If we want to facilitate their loss of credibility, as we must, we must challenge them on these issues. We must demand that they explain their accusations, rather than just repeat them over and over again.

Electoral evidence for what Edwards would add to the Obama ticket

In mid-May, polls were performed by Survey USA in several swing states (and some others), pitting Obama vs. McCain, alone, and with several different combinations of VPs, using four potential VPs who are mentioned as possible running mates for McCain and Obama, respectively. For McCain, the four potential running mates were Mike Huckabee, Joe Lieberman, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty (Governor of Minnesota). For Obama, the four potential running mates were Edwards, Ed Rendell, Kathleen Sebelius, and Chuck Hagel. I can’t explain why those particular choices were used.

In presenting the results below, I averaged the results for the Democratic pairing for each of the four Republican pairings, except of course when comparing Obama vs. McCain alone. Here are the results from 8 swing states (which is all I could find):

Obama/Sebelius -1
Obama/Hagel +2
Obama/Rendell -1
Obama/Edwards +18
Obama v. McCain alone +9

Obama/Sebelius + 2
Obama/Hagel +2
Obama/Rendell +2
Obama/Edwards +14
Obama v. McCain alone +9

Obama/Sebelius -2
Obama/Hagel -3
Obama/Rendell -2

Obama/Edwards +13
Obama v. McCain alone +7

Obama/Sebelius -5
Obama/Hagel -7
Obama/Rendell -8

Obama/Edwards +6
Obama v. McCain alone +2

Obama/Sebelius +2
Obama/Hagel +3
Obama/Rendell +2
Obama/Edwards +12
Obama v. McCain alone +10

Obama/Sebelius -1
Obama/Hagel -2
Obama/Rendell -3

Obama/Edwards +11
Obama v. McCain alone +5

Obama/Sebelius E
Obama/Hagel -1
Obama/Rendell -1

Obama/Edwards +11
Obama v. McCain alone +6

Michigan (only Romney used for McCain’s running mate in this one)
Obama/Sebelius -16
Obama/Rendell -17
Obama/Jim Webb -19
Obama/Joe Biden -18
Obama/Wes Clark -15
Obama/Bill Richardson - 14
Obama/Hillary Clinton - 5
Obama/Al Gore -5
Obama/Edwards -3
Obama v. McCain alone -4

Interpretation and explanation of polling results

For every state, the three potential VP candidates other than Edwards did worse when compared against the average of the four McCain/VP pairs than Obama did against McCain in a one on one match-up. Name recognitions is probably an important factor in that. Huckabee and Romney were McCain’s main competition for the Republican nomination for President this year, and Joe Lieberman is also very well known. Probably Sebelius, Rendell, and Hagel are less well known nationally than those three.

The reason for McCain’s very strong showing in Michigan is obviously his pairing up with Romney for each of the polls. Romney’s father is the former Governor of Michigan, and Michigan used to be Mitt Romney’s home state.

The most striking finding in this series of polls is how well Edwards did in every single one of them. He performed better than each of the other Democratic VP candidates in each poll, and the Obama/Edwards pairings did substantially better against McCain/VP pairings in each state than Obama did against McCain alone. I have never seen a potential VP candidate add so many additional votes to a presidential ticket.

What is the reason for Edwards’ exceptionally strong showings in these polls?

Beyond the fact that John Edwards is an especially strong candidate, I can’t add anything else. But given Edwards’ Presidential polling data against each of the major Republican Presidential candidates this year, these data should not be that surprising. As I discussed a few months ago in this post, titled “Edwards’ Dilemma: The Most Popular Candidate in the U.S. Polls Only 12% of His Own Party’s Vote”, of the more than 20 major Republican and Democratic party presidential candidates in 2008, John Edwards consistently polled better against the opposition party than any of the other candidates, consistently beating every Republican candidate by a greater margin than any other Democratic candidate. Yet, he generally polled only in the range of 10% to 16% of his own party’s vote, except for one brief spike into the low 20s. Clearly, he fared much better than Obama or Clinton against the Republican candidates with Independent and Republican voters, but couldn’t compete with them against Democratic voters. That was very surprising to me, since he was clearly, in my opinion, the most liberal of the three candidates. But that’s the way it was.

So, what we’re seeing in these polls of VP pairings is Edwards’ strength as a Presidential candidate in the general election being translated into strength as a VP candidate. The Obama/Edwards pairings are so strong that they win every single swing state (in these polls) by a substantial amount, except for Michigan when McCain is paired with Romney. Unless there is a major change between now and November, an Obama/Edwards ticket seems likely to result in an electoral and popular vote landslide. And I seriously doubt that there is any running mate that McCain could choose that would change that.

Another important reason I’d like to see Edwards as the VP nominee

In a previous post I discussed 8 important reasons why I believed Edwards to be a great candidate for President. Those same reasons apply for Vice President. I’ve heard many people repeat the old saw that the job of VP is insignificant. But recent decades have proven an exception to that rule. Walter Mondale, George Bush Sr., Al Gore, and Dick Cheney have been very influential as VPs. Barack Obama, having the type of personality that causes him to reach across the isle to seek input from Republicans, would certainly also be the type (I would hope) to allow his VP to play an important role in his administration – if I’ve judged him correctly.

As I noted above, my primary reason for favoring Edwards is his efforts and plans for eliminating poverty in our country. That is an issue that has been very unpopular amongst politicians in our country for many decades now, as the poor have had disproportionately small influence on our elections. Consequently it takes a lot of courage, in my opinion, to even mention the subject, let alone make it the central issue of your presidential campaign. For that, I have a great deal of admiration for John Edwards.

I believe that there is no other issue that is more in accordance with the ideals on which our country was founded:

… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…

What this means, for anyone who cares to take this document seriously, is that everyone has the right to an opportunity for a decent life. With millions of children born into poverty in our country, and with the income gap between rich and poor at record high levels, though that right may exist in theory in our country, it does not exist in fact.

I do believe that as Vice President, John Edwards would be very influential and productive in helping to secure that right for all Americans. And as the VP nominee for the Democratic Party he would greatly facilitate a Democratic victory this November.
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The Unfulfilled Promise
The Unfulfilled Promise of the American Dream: The Widening Gap between the Reality of the United States and its Highest Ideals

Time for change

Notwithstanding the lofty sentiments and purpose of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the reality of the United States of America did not then – and never has – lived up to its ideal. Our nation remains today a long way from fulfilling the promise implied by those ideals. Yet, our Declaration was a great start, and it has long shone as a beacon of hope for people all over the world.

Throughout our history, while many have striven to close the gap between our highest ideals and the reality of our nation, others have focused on the accumulation of private wealth and power, at the expense of everyone else. In recent decades the latter have gained much ground, leading to increasing imperialism abroad and deteriorating democracy at home, characterized by routine (and legal) bribery of our public officials, the fusion of government and private corporate interests (corporatocracy), a corrupt election system largely in the hands of private corporations, a corporate controlled communications media, and the widespread acceptance of Executive Branch secrecy, routinely justified with little if any questioning, by the magic words “national security”. All of this is rapidly turning our country from the democracy proclaimed at our founding into a plutocracy (government by the wealthy and for the wealthy). The result is the most obscene wealth gap our country has ever known, the highest imprisonment rate in the world, rampant militarism, routine flaunting of international law, the least efficient health care system in the developed world, a pending environmental catastrophe that threatens to destroy the life sustaining forces of our planet, and myriad other problems that threaten to destroy our nation and tyrannize our people.

My new book, The Unfulfilled Promise of the American Dream – The Widening Gap between the Reality of the United States and its Highest Ideals, explores the roots and consequences of the demise of our democracy, and why most Americans have been unable to understand this process or even become aware of it. A good understanding of why and how we have deviated so greatly from the ideals of our nation is the first and necessary step towards getting back on the right track and revitalizing our society.

The book is currently being sold in electronic PDF format and can be purchased at for $3.99. It will also soon be available in Amazon Kindle format. DU members who cannot afford to buy the book but would like to read it can pm me with your e-mail address, and I will send you a free PDF copy.

I’ve previously posted on DU a slightly earlier version of the introduction to the book, which is also posted at my site. Here is the Table of Contents, followed by a brief description of the three parts of the book:


Prologue – What is Wrong with the United States of America?

Part I – Root Causes of the Impending Demise of American Democracy
Chapter 1 – Legalized Bribery
Chapter 2 – Human Psychological Factors
Chapter 3 – Corporatocracy
Chapter 4 – Corporate Control of Media
Chapter 5 – Corrupt Election System
Chapter 6 – Government Secrecy
Chapter 7 – American Exceptionalism

Part II – A Sampling of Imperialist Actions
Chapter 8 – Slavery and its Legacy
Chapter 9 – Early U.S. Imperialism
Chapter 10 – U.S. Imperialism in Cold War
Chapter 11 – Iraq War and Occupation
Chapter 12 – Afghanistan War

Part III – Consequences
Chapter 13 – Election of George W. Bush
Chapter 14 – War and Imperialism
Chapter 15 – Class Warfare
Chapter 16 – Predator Financial Class
Chapter 17 – Shock Therapy
Chapter 18 – Contempt for Int. Law
Chapter 19 – The “War on Drugs”
Chapter 20 – Climate Change
Chapter 21 – “War on Terror”
Chapter 22 – Health Care
Chapter 23 – Unaccountable government
Chapter 24 – Response to 9/11 Attacks

PART I – Root Causes of the Impending Demise of American Democracy

It is somewhat difficult to separate the causes of our problems from their consequences, since they combine to form a long chain of cause leading to consequence, leading to more consequences, etcetera. Nevertheless, it seems worth while to identify the root causes of our problems, those that occur early in the chain and lead to so many of the tragic consequences we see today. The only chance we have of reversing the demise of our democracy is through addressing and attacking its root causes.

At the top of the list is the systematic bribery of public officials by the powerful corporations (Chapter 1) whom our government is charged with regulating in the public interest. Instead of calling it bribery, we call it “campaign contributions”, but what we call it isn’t as important as what it is. It is hard to fathom how democracy can survive when such a practice is legal and condoned.

Working in tandem with our system of legalized bribery is the nature of the people who inhabit our country. That is not to say that Americans are inherently substantially different than any other people. Human beings are imperfect, and that is probably a major reason why in a world where civilization began more than five millennia ago, the oldest written national framework of government in the world today – the Constitution of the United States of America – is only a little more than two and a quarter centuries old. Chapter 2 explores the roles of basic human needs, authoritarianism, psychological defense mechanisms used to prevent us from perceiving reality as it is rather than as we’d like it to be, and corrupted ideologies in causing us to passively accept the accumulation of power in the hands of ambitious and ruthless individuals who care about little else than expanding their own wealth and power.

When bribery of public officials is tolerated as an inevitable aspect of public life, government inevitably grows close to the wealthy interests that shower it with money in return for legislative and other favors. A malevolent symbiosis grows between the state and corporate power, resulting in rule by an oligarchy that is highly detrimental to the lives of ordinary people (Chapter 3). Using their accumulated wealth and power to manipulate our legislative process, the oligarchy grabs for more and more control of the communications media (Chapter 4) that are used to control the information available to and shape the attitudes of our nation’s people, in pursuit of their own narrow interests.

Since the 1980s an orchestrated campaign has been underway to demonize “big government”, thereby paving the way for private corporate control over more and more functions that were previously deemed intrinsic functions of government. Among those functions is the running of public elections (Chapter 5) – the function that symbolizes democracy perhaps more than any other single function. Consequently, the purging of selected registered voters from our computerized voter rolls has become a routine recurring event throughout much of our country, and without a doubt determined the results of the 2000 – and probably 2004 as well – presidential election. Just as bad, more and more of the counting of votes in our public elections have been turned over to private corporations, which count our votes using electronic machines using secret software to produce vote counts that cannot be verified by anyone.

Bribery, the fusion of government and private interest, fake and biased news, and corrupt elections are not things that government and its corporate allies want us to know about. Consequently, they construct walls of secrecy (Chapter 6) to keep us from obtaining information that sheds light on their activities. The perfect phrase for facilitating this is “national security”. When our government tells us that the “national security” requires that certain things be kept secret from us, the understanding is that to question such a pronouncement is unpatriotic, and to actually attempt to obtain the “secret” information may be treasonous.

But indefinitely maintaining secrets from the American people can be very difficult, because at least some people want to know what their government is up to. So in addition to the formal mechanisms of secrecy, informal mechanisms are constructed (Chapter 7) to keep vital information away from us. One of the primary methods for doing this is to make certain sensitive subjects taboo – that is, to create the widespread belief that discussion of these topics is so outside the bounds of acceptable human discourse that anyone who discusses them should be shunned by society, or worse. The most common issue that falls into this category is any discussion that sheds light on the disparity between American ideals and the reality of life in our country today.

PART II – A Sampling of Imperialist Actions in U.S. History

Notwithstanding the fact that our founding document says that “all men are created equal” and speaks of the inalienable rights of humankind, the United States has throughout its history partaken of massive exploitation of other peoples.

It is estimated that at the time of our birth, 18% of our population was black slaves. In our expansion westwards during the late 18th and 19th centuries, we decimated the original inhabitants of our continent, and often treated them with great cruelty. In 1846 we manufactured an excuse for war with our neighbor Mexico, in which we continued to expand our country westwards and southwards. In 1893 we began our overseas imperialism with the conquest of Hawaii. Our overseas expansion was greatly accelerated in 1898 with our participation in the Spanish-American War, which led to our conquest of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. With our arrival at world superpower status at the end of World War II, we began the Cold War, which led to and served as a rationalization for covert and/or direct military actions against myriad foreign nations over the next 46 years. With the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country, we declared a perpetual “War on Terror”, which served and continues to serve as an excuse to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, nations that posed no threat to us. We do not know when or if this perpetual war will ever end. We don’t know how many additional imperial conquests it will lead to.

Most Americans don’t think much about all this. Many of these actions are done in secrecy, and the American people don’t find out about them until many years later – or we never find out about them at all. Those that we do know about are spun into the most favorable light, to make them seem benign or even noble.

But these actions come at great costs: in the lives of our soldiers; in the ruined lives of the peoples of the victim countries; in trillions of dollars cost to our people and their future generations; in our international reputation; in anti-American hatred leading to terrorism; and, to our democracy itself. For how can a nation claim to believe in the inalienable rights of humankind specified in its founding document, while making a mockery of that belief in the way it treats other peoples? For that reason alone it is worth while to take a brief look at our long history of imperialist actions.

PART III – Consequences

In the Prologue I give a brief account of what I see as some of the worst and tragic consequences of the root causes that I discuss in Part I – to enable the reader to see where this book is heading. When elections of our public officials are for sale to the highest bidder… when our public officials are so addicted to the “campaign contributions” of their wealthiest constituents that they develop a symbiotic relationship with them… when our communications media are owned and controlled by an oligarchy of wealthy elites… when our citizenry lack the ability to differentiate propaganda from reality… when we allow machines provided by private corporations to count our votes using secret electronic software… then we should expect that the consequences will not be pretty or comfortable for the vast majority of our citizens.

In Part III, I explore those consequences in much greater detail, in the hope that the reader will agree with me that these are very serious problems, and that they must be successfully addressed if our country is ever to fulfill the promise of its ideals, or even make progress in that direction. When enough Americans recognize our problems as problems, stripped of the gloss and spin put on them by our oligarchy, they will rise up and do something about them. Until then there will be no progress, and we are very likely to head in the direction of all the former empires of our planet, ending in chaos, widespread catastrophe, suffering, and ignominy.

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