As my choice for the best Democrat was Joe Biden, I can’t be as passionate as others are in the battle taking place right now between Clinton and Obama. Though I support Hillary, I think both candidates are good. So I’ve looked towards the oncoming Democratic convention. The convention is the time to show off the Democrats best face, and I think it would be a good opportunity to show how large a tent the Democrats have as compared to the Republicans. Here’s my own wish list of speakers.
I think Joe Biden and Bill Richardson would be great speakers to enunciate the depth of the Democrats positions on foreign policy. One of the things that most impressed me about Biden during his run for the Presidency is his vast experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his 35 years in Congress. I especially liked his plan on partitioning Iraq. And he is a good at attacking the Republicans supposed strength in foreign policy. John Nichols wrote in the November 26 issue of the Nation: “Biden is best understood as a relatively rare political archetype: a Democrat who pays less atention to internal party politics than to winning elections and governing. This skill makes him the one Democrat Republicans feel compelled not merely to attack but to answer. That’s because Biden has so far been the one Democrat who has consistently understood the importance of taking the fight to the other guys.”
Bill Richardson offers the same sort of experience to a strong critique of Iraq policy. As a member of Congress, a UN ambassador, Energy Secretary and governor of New Mexico, he was able to canvas his broad experience to back up his positions on withdrawal from Iraq. I was deeply impressed with his performance in the New Hampshire debates, and think the combination of Richardson and Biden speaking about Iraq and foreign policy in the convention would convince many of middle America of the Democrats readiness in foreign affairs.
Dennic Kucinich would be another effective speaker to highlight in the convention. Kucinich represents a segment of the Democratic Party that often feels ignored because of it’s farther left views on a single payer health care system, a quicker withdrawal from Iraq, the flaws of the current free trade agreements and reigning in corporate power. Many Democrats fear a Nader candidacy would siphon off votes from a Democratic candidate in the general elections, and I think the best way to lessen Nader’s impact is to show these potential Nader voters that there are voices within the Democratic Party that share their views, people like Kucinich and Barbara Lee, who are affecting change in Congress and local government. It would be a more honest way to blunt Nader’s influence than to push lawsuits in states to prevent Nader from going on the ballot.
John Edwards would be an important speaker for the role that he played in bringing poverty into the forefront of the election season. He has gained stature within the Democratic Party for his persistence in pushing issues of economic justice when it could easily have been ignored. In the February 18 issues of the Nation, John Nichols wrote: “Those words rang true because the steadiness of the speaker’s focus during this campaign had led even cynical Democrats to the conclusion reached by Martin Luther King III, who told Edwards, ‘You have almost singlehandedly made poverty an issue in this election.’ … Edwards shaped the 2008 race, offering the first universal healthcare plan from a major contender, proposing the first economic stimulus package, making an issue of war profiteering. And he was heard. Obama’s rhetoric has grown more powerful and effective as he has borrowed Edward’s policies as well as his populist phrasing. And when Clinton tells urban audiences she is campaigning to help Americans ‘lift yourself and your family out of poverty’ it is impossible to miss the Edwards echo… Forget the empty speculation about him as a vice presidential prospect; Edwards’s best role will be as the voice of conscience for a party that has yet to recognize that its historic commitment to economic justice must be renewed in a time of recession.”
If Obama is the candidate, it would be nice to see Jesse Jackson speak. Obama wouldn’t have been able to achieve what he has done without the Jackson campaigns of 1984 and 1988 to break the ground. And Jackson is one of the greatest orators in the Democratic Party. If Hillary is the candidate, her husband should be given a chance to speak. He is also a great speaker. Whoever is candidate, Ted Kennedy should be given a prime spot to speak, especially since the cries of change that have been a large part of this primary season have invoked the spirit of his brothers John and Bobby.