Monday, October 04, 2004

Another News Cycle

So, here we are at the start of another news cycle. This early in the day, it's kind of hard to say what the hot topic's going to be - I suspect a continued spinning of last Thursday's debate, and perhaps a preview of tomorrow night's VP debate.

Anyway, I had the chance over the weekend to catch a CNN People in the News segment on John Edwards. His story is really quite the "American Dream" kind of tale that your teachers spun for you when you were still young enough to buy into the dream. Edwards has been through a lot of hardship in his life, and everything he's accomplished he's earned himself. No one handed it to him. He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons I was drawn to John Edwards as the first candidate that I backed in the Democratic horse race. It's not that his story is all that similar to my own, but it's not dissimilar either. We both came from working class roots. We were both the first in our families to give higher education a whirl. Certainly, Edwards path from that point differs a lot from mine, but the events in our youth that molded us as adults have many points of intersection.

Looking back, it is easy for me to understand why John Edwards' early campaign stump speech, "Two Americas", really resonated in my head. I've had the good fortune in my life to live on both sides of the economic "tracks", even if right now (and almost exclusively because of George Bush's failed domestic economic policies) I seem to be stuck on the "other side of the tracks". The point is that I've never forgotten where I came from - and I think the same can be truly said of John and Elizabeth Edwards.

Contrast that for a moment with George Bush and Dick Cheney - silver spooners, both. The "other side of the tracks" is something they've always viewed with high power binoculars, because they were both born quite some distance from that part of town. My late father always told me that in order to have empathy, you had to walk a mile in the other persons shoes. Neither Bush or Cheney have ever had to do the walk, and this alone would explain why both seem so completely out of touch with economic realities in today's America.

I think my symbiotic relationship (if you want to call it that) with John Edwards is the reason why I'm more looking forward to Tuesday night's debate than the remaining two presidential debates. For the first time, Americans will really get to see the differences between the Democratic and Republican viewpoints, as personified by Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

Don't expect Vader to meltdown like his genus Pan running mate. I just don't see it happening. Cheney is infinitely more articulate on his worst day than Bush has been on his best (at least over the past few years). What I expect to see from this debate is the politics of optimism -vs- the politics of fear, and each of these types of politics has its constituency.

What I wish (as opposed to expect) from the Vice Presidential debate is not to win any converts, but to give the Democratic Party faithful a look at the future - a reason to look forward to tomorrow rather than continue to live in a recent dark past.