New Hampshire to Reveal Political Truths

This election is no longer simply about change, it has the potential to be a "cathartic election." The only sure bet on that phrase is you won't hear it repeated a dozen times in a sentence by any of the candidates.

But given the dramatic and historic forces at play in New Hampshire today, the candidate's real personalities finally breaking through the political veneer, this election is already proving to be transformational in ways beyond anyone's imagining.

The question is can the leading candidates, each in their own way exceptional leaders, resist their base instincts to go in for the kill and lift the nation to a longer, healthier, cathartic discussion about the future of our democracy. If they can't, then they should drop out.

Hillary Clinton's and Bill Richardson's vast experience was on display in passionate ways in Saturday night's debate. The two have done more to create this political moment for change than many of the other candidates combined. They also come from a generation of politics that was brutally divisive, and thus learned to play hardball with an opposition that has been ruthless and relentless. They are not facing that opposition in the primary.

Barack Obama's and John Edwards' experience teaches that the problems we face transcend the merely political, that the purpose of our politics is not just about beating others, engaging in a never ending war room mentality. They each bring often unheard voices to the table creating a movement that is based more on hope than fear, channeling anger toward healing, recognizing the importance of moving entrenched interests beyond the political realm if any progress is to be made.

The best thing that can happen in the Democratic Party is for these four leaders to recognize the value in pushing each other to do better, recognizing that the American people are responding to their collective message. A true governing majority, something the nation has not seen in a long time, is within reach. Progressive ideas are capturing the imagination and hopes of Independents and Republicans as well as Democrats. This is what governing from the center means, not compromising on principles, but articulating ideas that bring people together.

None of these candidates wants to stand in the way of a historic moment each has helped create. And none are ready to abandon the notion that it might be their historic moment.

But historical figures are chosen by historical forces, not the mirror. Late tonight and tomorrow morning, as some campaigns determine their strategies moving forward, let them look at the past eight years and channel all their intelligence, experience, and passion for change toward making the best decision for America and our democracy, not their own personal interests, and continue this debate in healthy, productive and challenging ways that leaves the ultimate nominee stronger, not weaker.

The best thing for America is for all four Democrats to stay in this race and recognize their unique role in this historical moment, and truly engage each other and the American people in a genuine discussion of ideas, not one that simply masks a scorched earth politics carefully orchestrated under the radar.

The GOP primary must do some winnowing to achieve the kind of high-minded road show the Democrats can choose to pursue. Even Republican voters recognize the weakness of their field, and the extremely negative campaign of Mitt Romney will continue regardless of outcomes, because of his money. Likable Mike Huckabee now represents the most divisive part of the electorate, despite his folksy style, as social conservatives refuse to see that their time has come and gone, pursuing an agenda of, by and for a narrow sect more comfortable in theological nuances than recognizing the complexity, diversity and beauty in a pluralistic democracy.

John McCain stands alone in the GOP field, sharing the gravitas of the Democrats to engage the nation in a healthy, healing debate of ideas.

Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani add interesting and refreshingly unique perspectives to the GOP debate, reminding Republicans of a time when they too celebrated more than one idea, were not held captive by divisive social issues.

Republicans too will benefit from a genuine debate of ideas within their party, and for the first time in many years, have the potential to carry that debate to their convention so Americans can see what the GOP is really about. It is a defining moment for many political forces and the longer it is on display, the better it is for America.

On the eve of New Hampshire, but far away in Oklahoma, a bi-partisan group convened to urge all the candidates to lay out plans for governing from the center, working across party lines. Names like Danforth, Bloomberg, Boren, Hagel, Whitman, Nunn, Cohen — people never comfortable in the extremes of either party — seemed to lay a marker as well, suggesting that to miss this historic opportunity to move out of partisan gridlock would not be wise.

Our politics is at a pivotal and defining moment. Tomorrow morning, the decisions of a few will determine how this historic election moves forward. Voters will reward those who make it an election about ideas and leadership, not bunker mentalities.

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  • invalid-0

    “John McCain(100 year war Mccain and high taxes) stands alone in the GOP field, sharing the gravitas of the Democrats to engage the nation in a healthy, healing debate of ideas.”

    this is pure bs …ron paul has more gravitas as he is the only one I see talking about specific books on economics, political philosophy and history. Unless you think demand a 100 year war is a “healing debate” then you are making no sense whatsoever hear.

  • invalid-0

    Dick Cheney was touted as a great Republican politician because he had gravitas. It also turned turned out he was a big government war monger.

    So let’s not be too overwhelmed because a fellow looks presidential. John McCain has been in the Senate a long time and he has had a long time to prove that he is a fiscal conservative – and if you look at the last decade it is pretty clear that he is not. As far as I can tell, the only serious fiscal conservative is Ron Paul. Deficit spending and currency debasement have been funding the current spending binges. We know that the current welfare/warfare state will (like all empires) eventually be unable to pay for Social Security, Medicare, and trillion dollar wars.

    My expectation is that any of the four democrats you have mentioned or John McCain will just twiddle with the current system and then throw the economic dice, hoping that somehow we will grow the economy out of our underlying financial problems. It will be my grandchildren who find out whether we get lucky with the dice. Folks don’t seem to think it matters.

    So let them vote for gravitas. I want none of it.

  • invalid-0

    Anyone who supports the drug war and the regressive SS tax is doing harm to blacks, mexicans and poor whites. The racist nature of these policies is not acknowledged by you. This makes you a sham. The imperialistic foreign policy of obama and McCain and all the other CFR apporved candidates is obvious. Permanent bases in Japan, Koea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Iraq…this is radical violence…first intiated by the US ont eh people of these coutnries and secondly ont eh citizens of the US who pay for it. People of your ilk have no problem taxing new orleans citizens into dire poverty, shoving them into the worst possible school systems and then watching them get slaughtered as we send trillions in resources to conduct genocide in Iraq…then you and your shill friedns call people who are against these policies “isolationist”…nevermind that you devils restrict trade with Cuba, Iraq, Iran and many others. Tossing out sanctions if the US appointed dictators don’t kill the right people or order up enough contracts from Halliburton and Bechtel.

    No Obama will not have a peaceful mandate if elected…he will have the opportunity to change these horrible policies, but we know he is CFR/UN toady…that is why the military industrial complex owned media apporves of him and black balls Ron Paul and Kucinich.

  • invalid-0

    That is why he praises (100 year war)McCain. I am a lifelong republican who has recently awakened. My grandpa went to West Point. I am a MIT educated American from Alabama, not some socialist pacifist. Yet it is obvious to even me that the collusion between Rupuert Murdoch owned media…GE owned media… Westinghouse owned media…the NY times the Washington Post…they all lied about this war…and all the guys in both parties with the exception of the folks who get blackballed from debates for no reason(Like Ron Paul)…all the rest of the stooges are part of the “no change” party…just a continued march toward more governmetn control over the individual, be it through world wide carbon taxes, drafts, “national service”, “no child left behind”, more entitlement programs to keep bankrupting the country and destroying the dollar…teh Council on Foriegn Relations and UN all these guys want to destroy US soverignty and they will create whichever state of fear they can to do it…Drug wars, terror wars, Global Warming propaganda!

    It’s sick and your sorry excuse for political insight is shameful Mr Swensen. The fellow above is correct…at least change your propaganda tactics…you used “gravitas” 8 years ago tog ive us DIck Cheney…are your kids serving in his army? didn’t think so chicken hawk!

  • scott-swenson

    Pitchforks, anyone? Anyone?

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Why not offer some arguments about why being pro-empire building, pro drug war(imprisoning 2 million non-violents in the US), pro world tax is the type of change that will make all us americans feel warm and fuzzy for more government destruction of our lives?

    or talk about how these goals of sending .6 percent of every coutries GDP to the UN so those corrupt kofi wannabees can stay in 5 star hotels, protect more marxist dictators like Mugabe?

    ya .6 % is a direct quoted goal in your precious 1994 UN document about population control setting up databases and “informational gathering systems” on all the peaseants so you can track them like cattle? do you give your children all those poison vaccines you guys are sending over there? keep telling yourself your helping those kids like this lady did with the “ringworm” kids in Israel.

    seriously how do you think soemthing like that happened…this is who your working for.

  • scott-swenson

    Gabe, Gabe, Gabe … I”m happy to defend my analysis, which was that this election is historic, cathartic and healthy for our democracy. I suggested that having a longer debate about diverse ideas was good for the country. By suggesting that McCain has the stature to participate in a debate about ideas that the Democrats have engaged, and can continue, I also suggested that your man Ron Paul and Giuliani brought interesting and diverse ideas to the GOP table.

    By suggesting that the GOP should winnow its candidates in order to debate the ideas McCain, Paul, Giuliani and Huckabee advocate, I believe that the country would benefit from a clear debate about conservative principles, and I don’t believe Hunter, Romney, or Thompson add much to the debate.

    As for world taxes, wars (real or imagined), the UN, ringworm, or 5 star hotels, I have re-read my piece and my analysis has nothing to do with those issues.

    I’m interested in keeping the debate alive and engaging Americans in genuine dialog, not playing politics as usual. We have that chance.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • amanda-marcotte

    If Ron Paul supporters are real people or just net 'bots programmed on the "crank" setting.

  • scott-swenson



    Sean Hannity might argue otherwise. On this subject "Fox News Sucks" I am in complete agreement with the Paulians.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • brady-swenson

    Alex Koppleman at the War Room writes about Ron Paul writings/supporters. This should be interesting ….. 3, 2, 1 ……

  • invalid-0

    I just don’t see how McCain stands alone in gravitas among the GOP. I also don’t see how the democrats I’ve seen have much gravitas…none of them have discussed a foreign policy of freedom that ROn Paul has talked about for 30 years(ok a little props for kucinich). None of them can give good explanation for why 75k troops are needed in Germany…hundreds of billions a year to keep bases in Japan, Korea….Paul is the only one to stand up for individual rights and fight back against the zombies repeating “the islamofascist want to attack us for our freedom”

    Obama had the elction stolen….see the results of the election? paper count vs diebold count?

    the other issues I brought up had to do with you supporting the UN and backing there ideas in your other articles…it is obvious you are for the UN goals. I really was curious about your feedback on that video I gave the link to where the US paid the Israelis to test all those children for “radiation”…..dousing them with radiation thousands of times over safety limits and killing them…curious how you thought that borally questionable action was resolved…what happened to the perpetrators

    Your pro-establishment line that “all is great now that we have had so many ideas discussed….now enjoy your hillary clinton presidency”…all is not well, the media is corrupt not allwoing debates…deliberately shaping the election and then covering up any voter fraud issues.

  • invalid-0

    did you know Rupert Murdoch is a big hillary supporter? do you know the folks on the board of Foxnews otehr than Rupert…liek the guy that wrote the patrio act….Which Hilalry supported and obama supported the latest version of…these people are traitors. adn you are a idiot if you think (blackwater donation)Hillary is going to be better than bush….it’s more of the same you useful idiots…they are using you!

  • invalid-0

    Kill 1 million innocent Iraqis(plenty of them children) and if your name is Bush or Clinton you are a great “internationalist”….but advocate the end of a couple wars and the reduction of taxes on working folks and people call you a racists.

    Swensen thinks we should be happy that people who see nothing wrong with killing 1 million iraqis(all the candidates except Gravel, Kuccinich and Ron Paul) are going to continue being president.and if your not then you are a crank.