It’s my contention that the policy differences (on health care, energy, and foreign policy) between Edwards and Obama are minute. Others disagree and think they are significant. Anyone can pull out an example where there are differences (like their original positions on the war, or how quickly they promise to bring the troops out of Iraq), but my focus is on the significance of those differences when contrasted with the potential upside of an Obama campaign. Can Edwards, by himself, get the kind of record turnout we saw in Iowa (and most likely will see tomorrow in New Hampshire)?
At the core of my analysis is the insight that real change requires a political realignment. Maybe this will be easier to see if we take some of the emotion out of it by looking at the Republican side. Mike Huckabee is running on a Fair Tax that would abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If Huckabee is elected, he will never be able to implement a Fair Tax. He would need huge filibuster-proof majorities to get that kind of radical change enacted. When we look at health care, I notice that some people don’t think Obama’s plan goes far enough. Two points on this: 1) the health care plans of the three frontrunners are sufficiently similar that they would all wind up in about the same place after Congress got done voting on amendments. 2) Obama has said that, if he were starting a system from scratch, he would go for a single-payer system.
Let’s think about this. If Obama can elicit the kind of record turnout he produced in Iowa, in November, we’ll have huge Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The Dems will probably have a filibuster proof Senate. In that political atmosphere, which is so different than our current atmosphere, the entire universe of what is possible shifts. It’s this potential upside to Obama’s campaign that dwarfs some of the distinctions between his policy positions and the positions of Edwards.
Now, I recognize that this turnout is a hypothetical. It might not materialize…or it might be that Edwards can accomplish the same thing. But I think it will materialize and I don’t think Edwards can do the same thing because the media hates Edwards.
If you disagree with this analysis, let me know why.