found me 'over the hill' as we say in Santa Cruz, CA, meaning, 'in Silicon Valley'. there are VERY few things that would bring me out of my home temple in the redwood forest of home, but John Edwards coming to San Jose State today for a speech was worth crawling out of the woods for.
Jonathan and I are doing a kind of political-spiritual research on the candidates for the American presidential election in '08, trying to check them out closely and in person when possible. despite what impressions you can get from tv or youtube, or over the airwaves via radio -- there is no substitute for being in the room with a person to grok what's really going on with them.
we went being peripherally Edwards supporters -- we also seriously appreciate Barack Obama and are head-over-heels in love with Gravel.
& we went by way of research:
is this man sincere and heartful?
does he have real vision or is he mouthing whatever platitudes and promises seem expedient?
is he taking a real stand for issues we care about?
does he care about poor people in this country? what about around the world?
how does he view America, in the big picture? as a deserving empire? as an embarrassment around the world? as a bully? a leader of peace and freedom? an exporter of genuine democracy?
most importantly -- is this a real leader?
I was really impressed with his voice, first off -- Edwards sounds clear, sharp, focused, serious but not overbearing, perfectly aware of the atrocious blunders this country has made in the last several years but not angry-sounding. he's positive, has conviction, isn't afraid to make a strong stand, and is obviously very funny as well.
what struck me watching and listening to him was his unswerving commitment to help eradicate poverty in the USA and abroad. I felt that this was someone who could stand strongly on a particular issue and will go to the mats for it.
what also struck me was his confidence and inner strength -- while other candidates are still positioning themselves and evolving into the kinds of candidates they want to be -- a necessary and beautiful part of the process, I think, I'm not at all against transformation! -- Edwards seems to know who he is and what he represents.
in this day of the relentless soundbites and spin, of pandering and posturing and smart men suddenly going mealy-mouthed out of fear of "offending" (whom, exactly? special interest groups? the 28%ers? Christian fundamentalists? "the People"????) -- it's a HUGE relief to see someone real.
clear, simple, to the point, heartful and confident.
seems like leadership material to me.
the clincher was one line he gave about the Democratic party and its complete fearfulness -- "if the Democrats cease to be the party that speaks up for the poor, the underprivileged, and those who don't usually GET a voice in this country, then we have lost our soul."
maybe I'm just a sucker for a strong guy with good hair who talks openly & earnestly about the soul -- but I'm impressed enough to keep listening to what Edwards has to offer this country.