Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Take Back America with Small Change for Big Change

Take Back America with Small Change for Big Change

On Tuesday, June 19th, I attended the Take Back America conference in Washington, DC to hear John Edwards speak. Later that same day, I attended one of his Small Change for Big Change low dollar fundraiser events. This is my event report for both.

John's speech at Take Back America went really well.

In it, he laid out a sweeping vision for what could happen if America gets off its dependence on oil and starts to lead the world in developing alternative energy. One of his ideas is that if we lead in developing alternative technology, we will have a new industry that creates a lot of jobs and money. It will also force the price down on oil, if we're no longer using as much. Then, without the crutch of oil (or, as Edwards referred to it, the drug) the Middle Eastern countries which currently make all their money from oil, and therefore don't have to worry too much about how the rest of the world perceives them, will have to compete in the global economy on something else, which just might, as Edwards suggests, force them to educate their people.

Similarly, he talked about how if America starts producing a lot of biofuels, other places like Europe and Japan that don't have a lot of land mass will have to turn to places that do have a lot of land mass for their fuel, and Africa is likely to be one of those places. Therefore, Edwards concludes that America developing alternative energy in the form of biofuels could lift Africa out of poverty. He may be right. In any case, I like his vision for this.

The rest of the speech was filled with the concrete, specific proposals for things like universal health care, ending the war in Iraq, lifting people out of poverty, and solving global warming that have earned him a reputation as the presidential candidate who is leading the ideas race. He got a very enthusiastic reception.

After he spoke, nearly everyone I talked to was leaning toward Edwards. My sampling may have been skewed by the fact that my friend and I were wearing Edwards T-shirts. Maybe we just attracted people who wanted to talk about him. A number of people told us they were very impressed by him, and he obviously gained some new supporters.

Obama also spoke and had a very enthusiastic crowd, but I heard a rumor that his campaign offered to all the interns in Washington that they would get in free if they would hold an Obama sign. All of his "supporters" seemed to be around the sameage: early 20s. Half of them left after Obama spoke, but of the ones that remained to hear John, some of them wanted signs and many seemed to be also enthusiastic about John, so I'm not sure how many of them were real Obama supporters.

I personally was disgusted by Obama's speech , which talked about his "universal" health care plan that isn't really universal, and professed his dedication to cleaning up corporate influence in Washington, even while he continued to sponsor a coal industry backed coal to liquid technology bill that would increase carbon emissions. I later found out that he and Clinton voted for liquid coal in the Senate that same day . Luckily, the amendment was defeated, along with an even worse one by Republican Jim Bunning.

Obama's speech also, predictably for him, "borrowed" a lot of phrases and ideas from Edwards's previous speeches. Sorry Obama, it only sounds good when it's coming out of the mouth of someone who actually stands behind what he says.

Earlier, while we were waiting for John to speak, a reporter from the Charlotte Observer asked if she could interview my friend and me about why we supported John. She asked us quite a few questions, and the next day she wrote an article. She didn't quote me, but what my friend said was really good.

After John's speech, we went to the rally for Employee Free Choice Act, which allows workers to join a union by signing a card. John Edwards had asked his supporters to go. There were also buses going to the rally from a conference.

We had a few mishaps on the way. The bus driver got going in the wrong direction, and ended up taking us all the way to the zoo before realizing that he was driving away from Capitol Hill. The poor guy also got into a fender bender with another bus and scraped the side of the bus on a construction barrier, so I don't think he was having a good day. We got to the rally pretty late, but it was still going on. Here is a picture of the rally.

Then, we went to the Small Change for Big Change event. My friend and I helped make sure the people standing outside in line had filled out a donor card before they got in the door. There was a big crowd, and quite a few of them had not prepaid, so this was a pretty big job. It was great to see that so many people attended, and I got the sense that quite a few of them had decided to attend only after seeing John speak at Take Back America and being impressed with him.

We met Tracy Russo, who works for the Edwards campaign on blogger outreach. She was very nice and made sure we got in the door when John started to speak, then later made sure we got a picture taken with him.

I went up on the stairs to try to shoot video of the event, and I did get a video, but the visual quality of it is not great. You can definitely hear the speech and see the audience reaction, though. The speech was a shortened version of the one he gave at the Take Back America conference, but it got an enthusiastic response from the audience, even though I think several of them had already heard most of it before that same day.

Afterwards, my friend and I made our way to the floor, and I took some good photos of John interacting with the crowd. When I got home, I was a bit puzzled because I notice that one of my photos included a man handing a rubber duck to John. I wondered what the story behind this was, but it turns out that the other man was Andrew Duck, who ran for Congress in western Maryland recently. The duck is more or less his calling card.

Now, I don't like to ask for money, but John Edwards is the candidate we need to get America back on track. Can you donate? Please help my One Corps group to meet our fundraising goal for John by the end of the quarter.

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