The Candidate, A Film by Robert Redford (1972)
But let me tell you one thing I have learned from my experience -- you cannot deal with them on their terms. You cannot play by their rules, sit at their table, or give them a seat at yours. They will not give up their power -- you have to take it from them. We cannot triangulate our way to real change. We cannot compromise our way to real change. But we can lead to real change. John Edwards, Hanover, NH, 8-23-07
Campaign '08 Update 8-25-07: Edwards -- "They will not give up their power -- you have to take it from them."
NOTE: Words of Power is not going to endorse a candidate this early in the 2008 presidential race. But I have posted a "Words of Power short list" composed of three announced candidates (Edwards, Richardson and Kucinich) and two potential candidates (Gore and Clark), and an "Open Letter to Democratic Primary and Caucus Voters," in which I urge turning this race upside down. I reserve the right to comment on the race from time to time, even at this early stage.
Whatever happens next year, John and Elizabeth Edwards are running a campaign worthy of this make or break moment in US (and world) history.
Unlike Sen. Clinton, Edwards is not running as if the last seven years hadn't happened. Unlike Sen. Obama, he is not acting as if the legacy of this last seven years can be overcome by setting a different tone.
Edwards' style of "transformational politics" has placed him at the forefront over and over again: committing his campaign's resources to global actions on Darfur (click here) and Global Warming (click here), suspending fund-raising for a week to move among the forgotten poor of states that do not even have primaries or caucuses (click here), daring to touch that third rail of unfair trade agreements (click here), forcing the other frontrunners into a boycott of Fox (click here), calling out the rabid right and those that pander to it (click here), etc.
And now, just as he did at the Riverside Church earlier this year, John Edwards has delivered a speech that goes beyond the political "business as usual" formula of Sens. Clinton and Obama. In this speech, Edwards declares the truth of the corruption within Beltwayistan, and challenges all of us to "end the game."
-- Richard Power
Here is an excerpt, with a link to the full text:
I am the son of Wallace and Bobbie Edwards. My father had to borrow $50 to bring me and my mother home from the hospital. I am here today because, like all the people my father worked with in the mill, my parents got up every day believing in the promise of America, and they worked hard -- no matter what obstacles were thrown against them -- to give me the chance for a better life.
That's the promise at the heart of the American Dream. What matters to our generation is of little consequence -- in America what has always mattered most is the consequences for our children and their children after them. And no amount of power or money gives anyone the right to break that promise with our future.
I have stood with ordinary Americans at the most difficult times in their lives, when all the power of corporate America was arrayed against them. I have walked into courtrooms alone to face an army of corporate lawyers with all the money in the world. I have walked off the Senate elevator and been besieged by an army of corporate lobbyists. And I have beaten them over and over again.
But let me tell you one thing I have learned from my experience -- you cannot deal with them on their terms. You cannot play by their rules, sit at their table, or give them a seat at yours. They will not give up their power -- you have to take it from them.
We cannot triangulate our way to real change. We cannot compromise our way to real change. But we can lead to real change. And we can start today.
Nearly ten years ago, I made the decision that I would never take a dime from a Washington lobbyist -- I wasn't going to work for them, and I didn't want their money.
Because in the courtroom, when you present your case to the jury, you can offer facts and evidence, you can argue your heart out -- and I have -- but the one thing you can't do, is pay the jury. We call that a bribe. But in Washington when an oil lobbyist gives money to office holders to influence our energy policy, they call it politics. That's exactly what's wrong with this system.
Money flies like lightning between corporations, lobbyists, and politicians. We need full public financing to reform the system once and for all. But we don't need to wait to reform our party. Two weeks ago, I called on all Democrats to reject contributions from federal lobbyists. To tell them -- we know that you give money to influence politicians on behalf of your corporate clients. Well, we're not going to take it anymore. Your money's no good here.
I repeat that challenge today. Let's show America exactly whose side we're on. We can reform our party and truly be the party of the people. And we can expose for all time who the Republicans in Washington are really working for.
There are 60 lobbyists in Washington for every member of Congress. The big corporations don't need another president that looks out for them -- they've got all the power they need. I want to be the people's president. ... I am the son of Wallace and Bobbie Edwards.
And I believe in the promise of America.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery: "To Build One America, End the Game," 8/23/07,
Hanover, New Hampshire
For an archive of Words of Power posts on Campaign '08, click here.
John Edwards, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Hillary Clinton,, Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Bill Richardson, Bush, Cheney, Al Gore, Wesley Clark, 2008 Presidential Campaign, Iowa, Richard Power, Words of Power