Thursday, January 3, 2008

One Word


The best word I can think of to describe John Edwards this morning. Here's a guy who's stayed awake for days, crisscrossing this state on dozens of campaign events spreading a message much more fiercely than he did in 2004: corporate greed, lobbying, unfair tax breaks, and handouts to big business must end.

Where better to show up at 8:00 AM on caucus day than the blue collar neighborhood of east Des Moines. Only blocks away from the event were towering industrial plants and warehouses. Kevin Cooper, a steelworker and supporter of John Edwards, joined fellow union members on stage behind Senator Edwards and held a sign whose simple words sow the true, core strength of Edwards' campaign?the support of union labor.

I've seen Hillary's crowds, the thousands of young supporters and families that show up for Barack Obama, and the smattering of folks that show up for Biden, Richardson, and Dodd, but John Edwards has been the only candidate that has consistently had audiences packed with union laborers and blue collar workers so often talked about in this campaign. As I drove along the winding roads that snaked between smoke stacks, stone quarries, and water treatment plants after Edwards departed I realized the candidate of choice for the working class people of America, and more specifically today in Iowa, means a great deal to me. These are people who are deeply affected when their interests are slighted by our 'corporate-American' government in Washington, and these are people who take offense when a politician doesn't follow through on a promise to help them out.

It's comforting to drive through the industrial areas of Iowa because it's here where America's heart beats. No matter how much voters in New York and Florida complain about not having an influence in selecting the presidential nominees, there's just something about Iowa on caucus day that feels right.

Edwards spoke for barely ten minutes. In and out and onwards. As soon as the Senator left, however, I was surprised that the room didn't empty. Instead, a campaign staffer took to the stage and began arranging the crowd into sections. I realized then that the hundred or so people in attendance were not just onlookers, but volunteers preparing to canvass around the city.

John Edwards comes from a family of laborers and is by far the hardest working candidate on the trail in Iowa. If his support around the state is as strong, passionate, and authentic as the handfuls of canvassers this morning in Des Moines, you better watch Edwards' results start coming in this evening.

(all photos: 2008 by Luke N. Vargas. All Rights Reserved.)

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