Hillary has seen her support base erode significantly since her debut as the strongest candidate. By nearly 14 points (margin 5) she's dropped to almost third place in Iowa in the latest round of polling. More significantly, Obama has risen across the board while Edwards in a close margin (1 point) has taken the lead in Iowa.
The fallacy to be drawn from these latest polls would be that there is a clear meaning to the polling. Far too many polls are taken, primarily because polls are the 'time and materials' of the hourly rate political consultant. Each new poll allows several hours of billing, so they are run incessantly and often without metric or appropriately ascertained margin of error. In fact, most of the abovementioned polls were absent of pressure on undecideds, however, when undecideds were pressed Hillary gains a significant advantage, Obama again in second, with Edwards third. Americans are essentially apolitical. Especially in early primary season, they largely ignore the candidate base and with good reason; there are usually candidates who watch the field and wait to see if it levels out and then make their move late. Early polling is notoriously inaccurate. If it were, Dewey would've trounced Truman, and Dean would've been president in 04.
In this case, within the Democratic camp the person who could make such a move is a theology student, former war journalist and professional photographer, and most recently, a nobel peace prize contender - could throw his hat in the ring. But Gore won't run. He's no longer wooden, but certainly not made of straw.
So that leaves the field basically wide open at this point. NM Gov. Bill Richardson has moved up to double digits and is now something far more than an also-ran candidate however the leveling of support indicates that the base has moved into indecision. In fact, the Democrats seeming inability to move any real issues past the desk of the president - ie. war , healthcare or ethics reform - have likely cost whatever momentum Speaker Pelosi and her aggressive, and well executed 100 hours plan have delivered.
What we will be left with , I believe, is the GOP candidate being nominated because people have no choice but to select one - and the Democratic candidate nominated simply because people made their choice in 2006 and got nothing for it. Any move interpreted by the American people as strong, will likely assist in the nomination that candidate who best articulates their contribution to the effort.
Uppermost in the mind of the voter is the Iraq war. The American electorate has made clear that wars of choice should be executed cleanly and without a long, drawn out aftermath. The connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq is tenuous at best. Americans do not seek to benefit from ill gotten gains. The two opposing camps regarding funding, those for it, and those against - equally dismiss the idea that oil revenues could provide ROI.
Instead, the recent compromise which has sent the war funding bill now, to the desk of the president, where he will surely sign - has pointed to what I would like to identify as the central, and direct cause of the violent disconnect between government and its people - and that is , the rider.
It may sound esoteric but riders are in no way insignificant. Anonymous riders account for the existence of a massive lobbying industry ("K" Street) with multimillion dollar offices set up now in Alexandria, Falls Church and Georgetown. I have seen these buildings in person. They are huge. Lobbying is a multimillion dollar industry.
Lobbying, however, is bribery. Legalized bribery, but bribery nonetheless. The perception amongst the elected representatives, senate and house, that their principal re-election funding emanates from this institution - is crucial to them and they will foster the idea that in order to get elected, you have to have alot of money and TV time, and it all has to come from them. Many pieces of legislation now get started at Parties where lobbyists broker access to the elected representative, and in particular, those that gain access are often - other lobbyists. It is this fundamental disconnect between the people, and their elected representative that represents the greatest danger to American interests domestic and abroad because - that representation excludes the fundamental democratic aim for which it was provided, ergo - to express a national identity and a coherent framework of laws that support an open society. Corporations are not democracies, they are aristocracies or at best, oligopolies - with vested interests and little tolerance for the imperfect machinations of rule by the polity. An animation to the polemic written in 2003, still sadly remains relevant. The Knife Party continues. None of us really matter to them.
The solution is very straightforward, actually - its to be .. .boring. For lack of a better term. Insist on Ethics Reform. In this, Barack Obama seems to be the strongest voice, having carefully rooted out lobbyist money from his base, and provided the largest small donor internet contribution numbers in the history of the US. He's green, no doubt. Still young. But he remains the chair for the committee on ethics reform and is putatively the best avenue for real change in america.
But one thing bears note - the executive branch balanced against the house will not be enough to dispel the nearly criminal sense of corruption that has fallen over our country. That will take national patience, and a bit of skill - the kind of skill that drives people to be .. boring? And just blast away anonymous riders. Whenever anyone is allowed to be anonymous - there is always the prospect of abuse. Whether it is unsolicited mail, or unsolicited destruction of 200 billion dollars of tax revenue per annum. There should be no taxation.. without representation. Let a key issue, inlight of Abramov, Delay, Attorney General Firings, Misuse of Wiretapping, Enron, Haliburton and the unmitigated loss of funds for reconstruction - be the fact that ethics reform is not merely an attempt to enforce morality - for no superpower is ever moral - let it be, simply - a means by which communication can be re-established between the electorate and its elective government - and by which government can be persuaded to continue down a path that was originally laid out for it by Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin: the creation of the common good and general welfare hence , to insure blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
Today we saw the minimum wage rise, because a war of choice in a country that we attacked, without provocation - is being funded. This is a warning sign - that how much that person behind the counter at McDonalds - is getting paid, should be tied to however much money we can spend in a form of war corporatism = funding the American military. A dangerous precedent that shows how meaningless it truly is to be an advocate for one piece of legislation, or another - without clear negotiated positions there can be no art/ no meaningful discourse. In fact, the height of this form of hypocrisy occurred during Katrina Recovery when Rep. John Cornyn, Texas (R) authored and successfully attached a rider to increase the amount of pollution coal fired power plants in Pennsylvania can be allowed to throw into the air, after a massive Hurricane - feeding off global warmth and record breaking hurricane conditions (of which, 2007 appears to be similiar) - caused 200 Million dollars of damage in one day.
What would it be like, then, to be the frog in the pot of water - slowly heating up until the frog leaps free. One has to measure slight, almost imperceptible change + be able to know at what point one has passed the point in which that change has become lethal. Nobody wants to hear about how one minute the temperature was 85 and the next, then, 86. Thats boring, right - but what do you do? Its a similiar problem to what we should do about global warming - at what point do we choose a radical course of action ? And what are the boring things, that I can do now?
In the end, it is inspiring to watch the check and balance of power flow and an increasing abundance of a largely incorruptible bureaucracy, coupled with citizen video journalism and political advertising, the rise of the blog (real ones, like Scoop, for example) - provide adequate basis for hope. In particular, global political participation has reached a new high as a result - with the latest french electorate weighing in at almost 86% participation in the last election cycle - thats an immense sea change from not too long ago and almost entirely attributable to the blogs. So lets get out there and do something boring for a change! . Shut down the lobbying industry.