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Sally Kohn: Are The Presidential Candidates In Touch With America?

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wndycty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 12:07 PM
Original message
Sally Kohn: Are The Presidential Candidates In Touch With America?
Are The Presidential Candidates In Touch With America?
By Sally Kohn

Posted November 27, 2007 | 11:55 AM (EST)

Ironically, the things that matter most to our country are not the things that matter most in politics today. Politics has become a playground for the wealthy elite, with lobbyists, corporate CEOs and big donors holding more sway than regular people. Meanwhile, in towns and cities across the United States, community organizing groups work with regular folks to identify shared problems and work together for solutions. Even back in the 1800s when de Tocqueville defined democracy in America, he said these local associations are the heart of our political tradition. But in the lifeless, corporate politics of our nation today, politicians can't seem to find America's pulse. During elections and in between, we hear more about the politics of elites than the politics of the people.

With their fingers in the wind instead of on the pulse of our democracy, politicians can't find our true values. Americans in every corner of the map believe we're all in it together and share community values of compassion and shared responsibility, knowing that we all do better when we all do better. Yet politicians and the media continue to represent fringe Right wing ideas of isolation, hyper-individualism and us-versus-them competition as the only values in America. Politicians and media allow the phrase "values voter" to be defined by that fringe minority --- rather than the community values the vast majority of us share.

But we, the people, know better. We know that the politics of our hearts, our homes and our communities are more important than corporate lobbyists. We know that the community values that we all share are the real values of our nation. But are the candidates listening?

On December 1st in Des Moines, Iowa, over 5,000 grassroots leaders from community organizing groups across the United States will join five of the leading presidential candidates for a conversation about real issues and real values with real people. At the Heartland Presidential Forum, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd will take turns sharing the stage with everyday Americans dealing with the consequences of inadequate health care, immigration raids, sub-prime mortgages and the loss of family farms. Organized by the Center for Community Change, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the national Campaign for Community Values ---supported by over 300 grassroots organizations from Maine to Hawai'i and everywhere in between --- the Heartland Presidential Forum is an historic, one-of-its-kind event this election season to finally hold the candidates accountable to the people.
-snip-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sally-kohn/are-the-presid...
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 12:22 PM
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1. The problem with "the politics of the people"
is that some of the people have really shitty politics. Remember--populism cuts both ways, and a whole lot of these local, grass-roots, or community interests are very right-wing.

So, what does it mean to ask politicians to "find America's pulse" ? Where do we find this imaginary, single pulse? This is the kind of starry-eyed writer who thinks that if only "the people" could be heard, everyone would agree with her. Well, I hate to say it, America's pulse isn't always beating healthily. Sometimes the pulse is running on greed, xenophobia, racism, and exclusion.

I'd rather have candidates/leaders who try to heal the pulse of America and bring people to new positions. The so-called "people" are not always so wise--witness all the really crappy referendums that get passed and force legislators into really crappy legislation.
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wndycty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I think that is a risk we need to take. . .
. . .we don't diss the politics of the people just because we don't agree with some peoples politics.
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. So, like, if the people in a certain region ...
are all in favor of lynching black youth for looking at a white women, that's ... okay? Because it's t he will of the people?

Sorry, been there, done that. We spent long hard years fighting "the people" on such matters. And if we hadn't, there would still be lynchings in t he South today. It was brave politicians bucking "the people" of Mississippi and Alabama who were able to make that kind of thing a federal crime.

This is the inanity of so-called 'populism.' Thankfully, our Founding Fathers foresaw that, and opted for a representative, not a direct, democracy.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 02:52 PM
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4. At its best, populism puts the interests of ordinary people above
the interests of the wealthy and powerful.

Nothing wrong with that.

The problem arises when racists use the ignorance of some of the general public to convince people that their problems are all due to the alleged sins of other races, not to the machinations of the fat cats.

The trick is to understand the struggles of ordinary people and provide them with an accurate framing of their situation. For example, it's not "Mexicans coming here to steal your jobs," but "Greedy bosses hiring illegal immigrants because they don't want to pay a fair wage."
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wndycty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:01 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Late night kick
:kick:
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