Edwards delivered his new remarks in an old fashioned New England Town Hall packed with at least 400 people maybe more and another 60 or so kids from nearby Phillips Exeter Academy sat upstairs in the balcony. We were all in a happy mood since the Red Sox had just won the World Series for the second time in four years and the day had been a crisp fall classic weatherwise.
First up is Joe Pace, the Exeter Democratic Town Chair and Edwards supporter; he introduces Senator Edwards with an apology. He’s sorry that Edwards won’t get a chance to watch some baseball later that night because as you know the Red Sox won the World Series for the second time in four years. Just as well since it’ll free the Senator up for another two Town Halls with a couple hundred more voters. It’s retail all the way for the Edwards crew.
But all kidding aside, Mr Pace tell us why he supports John Edwards for the nomination.
You’re talking about a man who is committed to restoring American prestige around the world.
And more importantly to restoring that covenant in America between all of us. Between the rich and the poor, black and white, north and south. All of us together. Ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome for the man who is going to be the President of the entire United States, Senator John Edwards.
“The great moral test of our generation.”
Senator Edwards starts off by talking about the new Ken Burns documentary broadcast on PBS recently, The War. He is struck by the “extraordinary accomplishments of Americans during that time,” and if you have seen the movie which is about 17 hours you know that the entire length of the film is filled with one extraordinary tale of courage or achievement on a host of fronts. It was not just the acts of our soldiers and sailors that were amazing to hear, it was everyone in the whole country. People working 100 hour work weeks at home year after year to supply the materiale for the war effort. And the losses that were born by every family with a loved one serving, wounded or killed in action. It was incredibly moving to see the history of the war presented in the first person accounts as only Mr. Burns, a NH voter, could bring us.
Edwards tells us about the sense he gets from people in the country as he travels around the country campaigning; things are very different now as opposed to then which was also a time of economic insecurity and imminent peril abroad. The future was uncertain, we didn’t start winning that war until ’43 at the earliest and sacrifices in the treasure of young men are always hard to bear at home. But today Edwards senses that people are fearful for the future of the country and the whole world really in a fundamental sense that goes far beyond removing Bush from office and reversing some of his policies. Why?
The American people haven’t changed since WWII. We are still a strong courageous vibrant people who believe in doing what is just and fair and speaking out when we something that’s an injustice. So the American people haven’t changed, the government on the other hand has …
Let’s look at Iraq, our men and women serving have done everything they have been asked to do … but we can’t get the lights on in Baghdad.
Look at what happened in New Orleans. I mean the hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, right? And Americans volunteer … they take families into their homes, they make huge contributions because they care about their fellow Americans, but the government is a different story…
Same thing with September 11 … I had these vivid images in my head of firefighters and first responders going up into those buildings while other fled and too many of them lost their lives due to their courage and heroism, but still in New York, today, at ground zero – it’s basically a black hole.
And the question is: why? What’s wrong with this picture?
Why is there an extraordinary disconnect between the strength and goodness of the American people and the government? Part of it is incompetence: there’s no question about that. But I believe it’s not just incompetence, I think it’s also, if we’re being honest, it’s the creeping effect of corruption.
The problem is the system and the fact that ordinary people are locked-put by the money in politics that buys corporate advocacy, but Edwards goes on to tell us that this didn’t start with George Bush who has certainly accelerated the breakdown of the government. Edwards tells us that it’s been so bad for so long that we don’t even notice it too much anymore, we’ve accepted our fate.
It did not start with George Bush … I think it has been building up for twenty years. And what are the examples of it? They go on forever.
- In Iraq, our men and women serve while “politically connected people here at home make millions of dollars,” like Blackwater.
- CEOs plunder their companies and ordinary men and women, shareholders too, are left holding the back on their pensions and shares
- Homeland security of container inspections? A joke. The biggest company in America, Wal-Mart, lobbies against it and there is no action
- What do we get for our trade policies? A multi-million job decline and multi-billion dollar trade deficit plus killer toys and food from China.
These things are not an accident. They are the direct result of the poison fruit of corruption.
Video: Exeter: Lobbyists (7:54)
The foot soldiers in the battle
We can go ahead and say, “the system is fine.” Ya know, we just have to win the election and if we replace this crowd of corporate Republicans with a crowd of corporate Democrats everything will change. I don’t believe it.
Have you seen the way these lobbying firms work in Washington? Unfortunately I’ve seen it’s and it’s ugly…
Ned Lamont used to say that the question is: why are we making such bad choices and the answer is: 63. There are 63 lobbyists in Washington for every one member of Congress. It’s a total all out ground assault every day of the legislative calendar on Capitol Hill. Firms employ Democrats and Republicans and specialists on every conceivable subject to get their client access and the power to influence the way our laws are written. On the partisan teams that coordinate a corporation’s lobbying strategy:
They [the lobbyists] are doing the same thing for the same people. That’s why this has to change. We can’t continue on this course. And I’m starting with the most pervasive influence which is the influence of lobbyists and by the way this is not in the abstract. This stuff finds its way into every single thing we’re trying to do.
The Medicare Prescription Drug Law .. you know who wrote it? Drug company lobbyists wrote it and it’s the reason we didn’t do anything to bring down the cost of presc
ription drugs because they got everything the wanted.
He talks about a couple of examples of extreme egregiousness. First with Clinton and Monsanto and second on a lobbyist access blitz held recently for companies representing corporations with business before the Homeland Security committee in DC. Then Edwards challenges Nher-ites to put an end to it today:
This is not a pretty picture and we have to do something about it… You actually have the ability to do something about this right now.
If NH primary voter said starting tomorrow, now I know I’m asking for a lot, but if NH primary voter said starting tomorrow: we will not vote for a candidate for president that continues to raise millions of dollars from Washington lobbyists then it would change overnight. The presidential candidates would stop doing it and not only that the people in Washington who are awash in this money would stop to. They’d say, “we hear the voice of the people of New Hampshire.”
Really though, if you look at the amount of money that is being raised in this campaign, it is obscene … How much money do people need to run a presidential campaign, I mean really. I hope we’re going to have an election not an auction here in NH.
There’s a lot more in this clip too. He has issued this challenge in Iowa as well, let’s see if he gets any traction on this. It was well received by the crowd, I thought. You decide whether it’s smart politics. Can’t hurt can it? At least we might have a conversation about why such a drastic step is necessary in America today.
Video: Exeter: Iran (6:19)
An enormous mistake.
This is the wrap-up clip and covers the worst thing that the senate has done since they authorized the war Iraq: Kyl – Lieberman which designates the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Or the rubber stamp that the Senate just gave to George Bush’s first steps on a road to military conflict with Iran based on another set of “facts” that are dubious at best. It passed the floor of the Senate with little opposition recently, 76-22.
One other issue I do want to talk about is Iran because this is something that does and should worry the American people. Have you all watched Bush and Cheney rattling their saber on Iran? applause This is a dangerous thing and what I believe is we have got to be strong and stand up to this president. We have got to make it absolutely clear that we are not going to let him do in Iran what he did in Iraq. applause
Now I want to give credit where credit is due, they are two people running on my side against me, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, who I believe did the right thing. They voted no. They stood up to the president. Senator Clinton voted yes and she’s entitled to her vote … but I think it is an enormous mistake.
He mentions the story in the Times characterizing Hillary’s decision to vote for the amendment as a political decision. Hillary voted yes because she’s moving from “primary mode to general election mode.” The crowd gets a kick out of this line because as far as they know they decide have alot of say in who goes to the next round and survives the snows of the early states. Edwards continues:
My reaction is that we should be in tell the truth mode all the time.
Also what happened just a few days ago bears out what all of us should be concerned about. Because just a few days ago Bush, Cheney and the administration declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and then they went another step further and said that they are proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. crowd sighs
These people have to be stopped, there is far too much at stake
I know, it really packs a punch and those are just the comments I had time to write up. I was glad to hear a lot of this language in the debate responses tonight for the Senator because it’s a great stump speech and the best I’ve seen him yet. It’s nice to see that he’s in his skin out there and honing the message to such a clear and persuasive narrative on the problems that we face in the America, where 99% of happen to live, and the one America he intends to build as our president.
This diary is another in the continuing guerrilla vlogger series. I’m not associated with the campaign in any way although I do volunteer, but I speak only for myself when blogging. I support Edwards for the nomination and I do all these vlogs as a citizen journalist, as in I’m not paid. I do everything with an ordinary mini-DV, a PC, Movie Maker and free tools available on the web.