Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards' extraordinary leadership and the haircut controversy

If there is a woman in the presidential primary that I really respect, it's Elizabeth Edwards. She's a mother battling cancer who nonetheless feels free to travel the country and speak her mind. Today she showed up at SF's Pride Breakfast of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club to support gay marriage.

To put in it context, her husband John Edwards doesn't go so far - he and the other top runners (Hillary and Obama) support civil unions.

Here's one woman who is a beautiful fighter. Democrats need more standard bearers like her - even if she feels emboldened by her cancer to speak out and to say what she feels is most important, I have to say that relatively few people are doing it with the grace and gusto that she is.

Also, I have to say that I find the timing of the Edwards haircut oppo bomb to be suspect - he had climbing poll ratings after the announcement that his wife has cancer, and then someone very smart put together this meme of Edwards as hypocrite that has been ringing throughout American media outlets.

And it's true - it does look bad to the average voter if your campaign is about Two Americas, and you style yourself as a poverty fighter if you worked for a hedge fund. But the Edwards campaign has been sinking in polls because they haven't really hit back hard enough, soon enough. You could say that Edwards got swiftboated on his key issue. The haircut thing, the house thing, then the hedge fund thing, and now the nonprofit thing. My question is which campaign fed the video to Ben Smith, and was it a Dem or Repub hatchet job?

It's all piling on to create what might be an impenetrable prison. And it sucks, but politics is the business of slinging dirt and making it stick. Organizing is the business of uniting people to build power and create change. So there are plenty of organizers who justifiably disdain presidential and electoral politics since it sucks so much money and time away from issues-based politics. But I still maintain that electoral change is a key component of social justice organizing - that if you want to see change happen, it's good to have friends in high places.

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