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Looking For Heroes

John Edwards’ new ad spot entitled “Heroes.”

This is the newest ad from the Edwards campaign. I’m told by someone close to the campaign that John Edwards was speaking off the cuff in Iowa when this footage was taken, it was one of those spontaneous audience discussion moments. However it came about, it’s an effective spot. I’m interested to see what you all think. The ad’s message could use some discussion, especially the part about the average folks needing a voice and being the real heroes.

I disagree slightly with that premise, though — average folks need to understand that they have their own voices. And that those voices, in aggregate, can be very powerful. Because we cannot simply sit by and wait for a hero to save any of us — the heroes aren’t going to come sweeping in on a white horse to save us from the idiocy. We have to be our own heroes. We have to fight for ourselves. So it is, so it always has been.

The way our nation’s political system is set up benefits the people who have the cash to hire lobbyists and other mouthpieces, who have a decided advantage right out of the gate. Absolutely true. It is also true that the way our major media outlets operate, after years of consolidation and corporatization, is not optimal for the free flow of ideas and facts. (See this great keynote from Bill Moyers to the National Conference on Media Reform, Part I and Part II for more on this.)

But there are things that can be accomplished with the collective voices of the American public raised together, with people massed together, with all of us speaking up as one. If ever there were a time that this nation of ours needed some brakes applied, it is now. But more than just being against things, we need to stand up for our values, our principles, and our people — all of our people. Which leads me back to a post from quite a while ago:

…Democrats used to own these issues because they listened to the voices of those people who needed help, who needed a hand up, and who were willing to do the work on their end to get the job done. And they spoke up for them, gave them a voice in the halls of power.

Ever since 9/11, Republicans have hijacked the message. It’s been all security, all fear, all the time. It’s been “we tell you what to think about morals” and never mind that what you are being taught is to hate your neighbor because he thinks differently than you do.

Well, I’ve had it with this divide and conquer strategy, and I’m standing up today to say that this nation deserves better. My child deserves better, and so does yours.

The ends do not justify the means. That only works if you are on the top end of the food chain and don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone underneath you.

Growing up, my folks taught me that I was no better than anyone else. Period. But they also taught me that no one else was better than me, either….

But it isn’t enough that I want more for myself and my family. Every person in this nation needs to wake up and realize that they deserve more as well. That’s a message that Democrats could take to the bank, I’m sure of it. I know it is a message that would resonate here in West Virginia. People are hungry for hope, they are hungry for someone who will value them — and not just use them as a pawn.

More than that, they deserve to be valued. It’s a question of doing what is right, not just what is politically expedient in the moment to win the election or raise more money or whatever else seems to be driving political power these days. Let’s give the little guy a voice again — help him to stand on his own two feet and make something for his children, and you help the whole country…Imagine where we could go as a nation if we all started looking up again, looking to our dreams for our own lives and for our children….

It isn’t enough to swat at the daily idiocy, to bat down the lies and the distortions, to engage in the daily back and forth. That just keeps all of us busy in the tangential weeds and inside baseball.

What we need is change, but this has to come from the roots upward. It is time we took our nation back, so that the political scene is working for the good of all of us, and not for the further enrichment of a very few. It is time we stood up for what is right, and not what seems politically expedient for the short term. It is time to fix what is broken: state party apparatus, local officials on the take for themselves, staffers who no longer see the long-term because they are lost in the short-term frenzy, and national officials who are too busy keeping their jobs to actually do them properly. (H/T American President) But to do that, we have to be involved in these organizations, to run for those offices, to work on those campaigns — from local school board and prosecutor all the way up to the presidency.

There was an interesting tidbit that jumped out at me from a draft Stephen Colbert website, so I asked around and found that it was pretty accurate: 1,000 phone calls is a lot at any one time on an issue, and 10,000 calls could shut down a state party apparatus, let alone a Congressional office.

Think about that for a moment — we have well over 50,000 a day here at FDL on any given day. If only a fraction of those readers were actually making the phone calls asked of them on important issues, the potential impact is enormous. And if the reach of those contacts was spread out to calls, faxes, calls to local offices, letters to the editor, postcards, and appointments for meetings with staffers? That starts to make more than just a dent. When you add in a public demonstration, a coordinated effort at the local level to pressure the state party apparatus? Imagine where that could go.

I’m looking for some heroes. And I have a feeling that every person reading this could qualify for the job. We have to stop waiting for someone else to do the work, and start doing all of it ourselves. Let’s talk about what we can do — what we are doing — to change our communities, our nation, and our world.

You are the hero you’ve been waiting for…be the change you want to see.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com