Democratic presidential hopefuls were asked what their top priority was in a recent CNN debate. Here’s a sampling of responses:
- Edwards: “travel the world” and “re-establish America’s moral authority.”
- Clinton: bring home U.S. troops from Iraq.
- Obama: bring home U.S. troops and push for national health care.
- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: upgrade U.S. schools and push a $40,000-a-year minimum wage for teachers.
Edwards is the only candidate I believe is beginning to speak to our values. Clinton and Obama both cite bringing home U.S. troops. While many people want to bring our troops home, the real thing that most people want is a “successful end” to this war.
Richardson makes the mistake of diving into policy. He could set a much better vision by declaring that his top priority was “improving our competitiveness in the world.” Once you establish this vision and people are “bought in” to the vision, then and only then, should you craft the policy.
The other candidates expressed their vision almost as poorly:
- Delaware Sen. Joe Biden: end the war in Iraq and defuse tensions with Iran and North Korea.
- Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: help “reshape the world for peace” and end all nuclear weapons.
- Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel: Remind Congressional leaders they can end the war in Iraq now.
- Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: “Restore constitutional rights in this country.”
Biden simply wants to end the war. He doesn’t want to end it successfully. Republicans will label this “surrender.”
While Kucinich’s vision is too pie in the sky. World peace could mean just about anything. At least it is a vision, though.
Gravel sounds like he’s just going to stick post-its on Congressional leaders desks. Then again, his goal is probably more to get this message across now while he has a spotlight. I have to admit that I donated to the Gravel campaign after his first debate appearance. If only to buy him some time to get his message across.
The problem with Chris Dodd’s vision of restoring constitutional rights is that very few people believe they’ve been lost. He does set a clear vision, but it’s a vision that only a select few would prioritize at the top of their list.
The candidate that makes a “successful end to the war” their vision is the candidate that I believe will ultimately win.