Anyway, the broadcast contained a description of the two-way battle in Iowa for the Democratic nomination, between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. There is, of course, a third candidate, John Edwards, but his name wasn't mentioned until about three minutes into a four-minute report.
Odd, you might think, when Edwards is only two points behind the other two. But that's because thinking John Edwards is thinking the unthinkable. The likelihood of him ever being elected seems so remote that he's just being quietly dismissed so journalists can focus on the battle between Hilary and Obama. That's easier to deal with. A v B is easy to describe, but A v B v C is problematic and requires a few more words and a bit more thinking. Let's just keep it simple, shall we?
But... what if Edwards won?
The argument against Edwards goes like this: Bush's administration is so far to the right that going all the way over to Edwards is just too far for the country and its voters to travel. The US, if it needs to move at all, needs to move only slightly to the left - with another Republican, or Clinton - or a teensy-weensy bit further to the left, by voting for someone virtually ideologically indistinguishable from the others but who happens to be black, and is magically imbued with a bit more of a blue-collar tinge. But Edwards...? No way. Going that far would "tear the country apart", wouldn't it?
Edwards clearly knows this particular anti-Edwards argument. Here is his defence:
"The richest are getting richer. The biggest corporations are making record profits, and at what cost? The middle class. Low-income families. The promise of America for your children and your grandchildren. If we trade a crowd of corporate Republicans for a crowd of corporate Democrats, nothing will change."
I think he's right. I don't think anything would change. There would be optimism from the nation's first female/black president, but beyond that particular bit of history-making for the Democrats, what then? Do either of those candidates represent someone who can truly unite the country and actually do something to repair the damaged integrity of the United States on the world stage? Or will they just continue Bush's work of war and aggressive foreign policy, while domestically making the rich even richer and the poor even poorer? (For more on that, see here)
Michael Moore says of Edwards:
He won't take the big checks from the corporate PACs, and he is alone among the top three candidates in agreeing to limit his spending and be publicly funded. He has said, point-blank, that he's going after the drug companies and the oil companies and anyone else who is messing with the American worker. The media clearly find him to be a threat, probably because he will go after their monopolistic power, too.
The last aspect of Edwards's threat poses an interesting problem. It's a problem that will be exercising the minds of Democrats right now. What if they chose Edwards, what then? They could expect a total onslaught from the media corporations, particularly Murdoch. But is he the right candidate or not? Do you decide someone on the basis of what they say, or against them because of their enemies? In the case of Edwards, I'd say his enemies are a pretty powerful argument in favour of his selection, but the Democrats are a political party: they exist to gain power. Can they risk Edwards, or should they play it safe(r) with the other two?
And there's an interesting corollary, too: what if, despite overwhelming attacks - and there would be an absolute war against him in the press, that much is pretty obvious - Edwards was chosen by the people? What if he not only made the Democratic nomination but was also elected as President? Would corporate America agree with democracy? It's well-documented, of course, that there would have been an attempted military coup in the UK if Harold Wilson had stayed as Prime Minister beyond 1976. Have we moved on that far in our western democracies since then, or do corporations take it for granted that the electoral system exists to prevent someone like John Edwards from becoming president?
But what if they're wrong and Edwards were to win - what then?