On Saturday December 1st, 3600 individuals braved the nasty weather in Des Moines IA to attend a forum. This forum was special in the fact that the everyday people would be able to ask five of the Democratic Presidential candidates questions that mattered to them. The Democrats who showed up were: John Edwards, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and my pick for President, Representative Dennis Kucinich. Only Hillary phoned it in, unable for some reason to attend in person.
The Heartland Presidential Forum has received scant notice, hell NO notice by the MSM...which shouldn't surprise us, but it should piss us off. This Forum was unique in that the questions weren't filtered through a cadre of network heads like CNN, MSNBC or Fox Noise. Real Americans asked their real questions and voiced their real concerns to the candidates. The Forum was sponsored by community groups across the nation. It should be noted that the Republican candidates were also invited, but only one of them accepted the invitation. The forum lawyers ruled that to only allow one Republican to attend might appear to be an illegal political endorsement and therefore he was not allowed to attend.
This wonderful forum allowed everyday Americans to address the candidates of their choice directly on the stage, face to face. The entire video of the event can be seen at MovementVisionLab.org or portions can be watched on their YouTube channel. The one MSM writeup I could find was the San Francisco Chronicle. Below are some of the individuals and their stories they highlighted from the event:
Erica Fernandez, a 17-year-old student from Ventura County, spoke eloquently of her community's struggle against the siting of a liquefied natural gas facility - and asked John Edwards to address questions of environmental justice (the first time I've heard the issue raised at the presidential level).
Patricia Divine Wilder, a small business owner from Walla Walla, Wash., spoke to Hillary Clinton, choking back her own tears (and ours) as she struggled through a story of a nephew whose recurrent neck pains went unaddressed because he lacked health insurance. When he finally broke down and saw a doctor, it turned out to be inoperable lung cancer. Clinton responded at length about the arcane details of her health care plan - and was then cut off for exceeding time limits so that she could hear from an undocumented immigrant student. Identified by first name only, she noted that she had graduated at the top of her high school class, is two years away from finishing a B.A. in education, and will never be able to teach. Following her, Larry Ginter, a white family farmer from Iowa, pleaded that "to save our national soul, we have to stop treating immigrants like common criminals." Echoing the theme, Tam Tran from Los Angeles told Dennis Kucinich her tale: she and her family fled from Vietnam, were rescued by a German boat, and came to the United States when she was 6. Now the United States wants to deport her - to Germany - and agents have followed up by raiding her parents' mobile home two months ago.
And Barack Obama found himself floored by Dedra Lewis from Springfield, Mass. She recounted her shock when her 10-year-old daughter, Alexsiana, developed a sight-threatening eye condition - and her relief when the State Children's Health Insurance (SCHIP) program threatened by President Bush's veto pen had saved her when she lost her job and her private insurance. Alexsiana was there - she and Obama exchanged hugs and quiet words before he went on to outline his health care plan.
There are many more stories like these on the pages of the SFChron writeup as well as the writeup by the MovementVisionLab author Sally Kohn who calls these folks this years swing voters in her article. There were white folks, brown folks and black folks that brought their issues to the Presidential candidates. Many of the stories rang true for me or people I know and love. I would like to suggest you watch the entire presentation, but if you don't at least watch some of the YouTube video's of the speakers and the candidates response, it will make you proud to be an American again..at least it did me.
We need more of these types of events for the candidates, where the questions are asked by those who will be voting for our next President. Nothing was canned or phony to me, it was genuine concern based in living a life in these here United States. The American's were from all walks of life, investors, farmers, undocumented immigrants who have worked hard to make a life here and still fear being deported. Single mothers who worry about making ends meet and feeding their children every day. I could go on and on..but hopefully you get my point dear reader. So watch our Americans in action and how the candidates responded to them.
Do yourself that favor today ok?
Crossposted at Bring it On!