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by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

She's Still in This Race

(PNS) -- Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa proclaimed that it's time for change. Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee proclaimed the same to his cheering supporters. That was lesson number one in the smash victory of Obama and Huckabee: Iowans and Americans crave change.

They are fed up with the lies, corruption, cronyism, politics-for-sale, war mongering, political bungling and economic wreckage wreaked by Bush, Congress, and legions of on-the-make politicians. Obama and Huckabee -- though neither can be considered maverick, establishment-challenging elected officials -- at the very least, are energetic, fresh, new faces on the national scene. They have been savvy enough to figure out how to talk the talk of change, and for now that's enough for voters.

That's even truer with John Edwards. His populist-laced pitch to end poverty, bolster unions, and his rail at corporate pillaging resonated with millions and put him right in the thick of the White House race.

The second lesson of Iowa is that money can't always buy a political win. Mitt Romney outspent Huckabee by an estimated 15 to one in the campaign. It didn't help. In fact, it hurt the money candidates. It reinforced the notion that politicians and their corporate backers think that if they spread enough cash around, they can buy anything. That repels millions of Americans.

Americans are sick of watching the parade of fat-cat lobbyists and corporate bigwigs buy and sell politicians and elections, and then watch as those politicians give away the company store to those same interests when they torpedo affordable health care, erode labor protections, pour billions into bloated defense spending, and shove through economy-draining tax cuts for corporations and the super rich. Obama and Huckabee appear to many to be the candidates who could reverse this.

Lesson number three of Iowa is that race didn't matter most. Iowa is one of the whitest and most rural states in the nation. Yet, white voters were able to strap on colorblind lenses and punch the ticket for Obama. This was historic.

It's a sign that many more whites than ever are willing to truly look past race, and back up the promise they repeatedly make to interviewers and pollsters (but don't always keep): that they will vote based on competence, not race.

That's not smoking-gun proof that race doesn't still matter in politics, but it's a sign that it may no longer be the element that matters most with an increasing number of white voters.

Lesson number four is that the national media's shameful and disgraceful hatchet job on Hillary Clinton paid off, and paid off big. The hate-Clinton vendetta deeply imprinted within far too many voters that Clinton is a classic pandering, corporate shill, and that a vote for her is a vote for the status quo. This reaffirmed the power and dominance of big media and its dangerous ability to shade, massage and manipulate public opinion to suit its ends.

Lesson number five of Iowa was that the Christian evangelists are far from dead in the political water. They are desperately looking for someone to energize and mobilize them. They found that figure in Huckabee. If mobilized, they still pack a wallop in key states and Huckabee may just be the one they'll step up to the plate for.

The election is far from over. There are more primaries ahead for the candidates, and more tough battles for them to win. A slip, misstep, or scandal could be fatal to the two frontrunners. But for now, Huckabee and Obama are the ones to beat. Stay tuned.

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Albion Monitor   January 4, 2008   (

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