Transformational Candidates

(The following is a comment I made on a thread at MyDD about whether Edwards should run, which got into a great discussion about transformational politics.)

I think Trippi is hitting the nail on the head. We need a transformational leader. I supported Gov. Dean in 2004, not because he was a transformational leader. When I started paying attention to the 2004 race, I wasn't thinking in those terms.

Nonetheless, I found myself transformed by Gov. Dean and his campaign. Many of us were changed by the campaign and we are all better off because of it.

Who will be the transformational candidate in 2008? I like what Sen. Edwards is saying and doing about poverty. I hope it transforms people and gets them to contribute to local food banks, to help rebuild our houses the way Sen. Edwards has in New Orleans or the way President Carter has done with Habitat for Humanity. As well as bring about meaningful change in Washington on issues related to poverty.

As I've written elsewhere, I hope it spawns a new generation of Freedom Riders; perhaps this generation's Freedom Riders with be Freedom Writers leading a war on poverty through blogs, video blogs and citizen journalism by helping all of us see the side of America that is rarely on broadcast TV.

Whether or not Vice President Gore chooses to run, he too, could be a transformational leader if his message translates into people's lives being changed with the way they use energy. I sure hope that many of us are transformed in our relationship to fossil fuels.

Will any of the other candidates help transform our system? I don't know enough about Vilsack to comment about him, but I will mention one candidate who took me by surprise by the transformational attitude of one of his staffers.

I ran into a staffer of Sen. Dodd at an event in Washington. The staffer talked about using Dodd's campaign to help bring about lasting change in our electoral system. Now, I'm from Connecticut. I like Sen. Dodd. I know that he's been in the Senate for twenty-five years, was a former DNC chair and is the son of a former Senator. The idea of him bringing about meaningful change to the electoral system took me by surprise. He did co-sponsor the Help America Vote Act, which while it may have been well intentioned seems to have done as much to help America vote as No Child Left Behind has done for education.

So, as it stands right now, Sen. Edwards is the candidate that I believe has the greatest potential to bring about transformation, so that's where I'm putting my energy.

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