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Bill Moyers for President Message Reverberates

After the publication of an essay in The Nation by Ralph Nader encouraging Bill Moyers to run for President, there are reverberations through the blogocube. Most of them are just republications of the original essay (Hello, myspace!). There are only a few people who follow Molly Ivins’ and Ralph Nader’s strategy and talk about the idea in their own heartfelt words. Here are the few dribs and drabs of recent original conversation on drafting Moyers that I could find:

The Quaker Agitator points to Moyers’ most recent consideration of public education in which Moyers says:

Let’s be honest about what we mean by ‘urban education.’ We are talking about the poorest and most vulnerable children in America – kids for whom ‘at risk’ has come to describe their fate and not simply their circumstances. Their education should be the centerpiece of a great and diverse America made stronger by equality and shared prosperity. It has instead become the epitome of public neglect, perpetuated by a class divide so permeated by race that it mocks the bedrock principles of the American Promise.

Quaker Agitator reacts, “Another reason why Bill Moyers would get my vote if he ran for President. How come real politicians who have the real power to change things don’t talk like this?”

I don’t follow Quaker Agitator’s reaction to what seems to be a pretty common paragraph of concern. I mean, is Moyers’ paragraph really a quantum level above John Kerry’s words back in 2004? I know they’re different, but are they that different?

It is unacceptable in the wealthiest nation on earth that we tolerate vast and growing pockets of poverty – from the hills of Appalachia to the streets of Detroit. Raising the minimum wage and making life better for the working poor is part of my vision for a stronger America. We can change that…and we will. Don’t tell us crumbling and overcrowded schools and underpaid teachers are the best we can do. We have the means to give all our children a first-rate education. We can change that…and we will.

Scott Jones puts it succinctly:

Could this really happen? I think I’d wet myself.

Commenters at Mainstream Baptist identify two reasons why a Moyers candidacy may not fly:

Good idea and sentiment, but the democrats won’t follow a word of what Nader says. He’s burned his bridges….

Moyers is too important to waste his skills as president. I’d rather see him focus on progressive news and shining light into the darker areas of our politics. Having said that, I probably couldn’t resist voting for him if he did run.

Levellers, another Baptist activist (as is Moyers), goes into greatest depth:

Moyers is

* A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A person of faith who still believes in religious liberty for everyone and in church-state separation, Moyers understands the South, evangelicals and others who are often written off by progressive elites and simply exploited by conservative elites.

* A former press secretary to President Lyndon Baines Johnson who understands the politics of the White House and the temptations and pitfalls of power. Supportive of LBJ’s civil rights and anti-poverty efforts, Moyers broke with the administration over Vietnam. Not a pacifist (which is good since, currently, a pacifist could not be elected U.S. president), Moyers still understands the limits of military force in politics.

* A savvy realist who could raise the money to be a serious candidate in our flawed, money-run system, but whose numerous investigative pieces on the corruption of money to politics would lead him to check thoroughly for strings and not take tainted money–and work to rid the system of money once in office.

* A brilliant speaker who could move people to support a progressive agenda.

Interestingly, in that post Levellers also gives a boost to the idea that Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund run as a presidential candidate. (Edelman has also been mentioned as the perfect Secretary of Education.) I’ll have to think about that.

Initially, I have been skeptical about the value of a Bill Moyers candidacy, but the more I read people’s reaction, the more I understand why he would be a valuable addition to the campaign trail. The presidential primary season is great because it forces the media to listen, again and again and again, to a small set of people talking about what motivates them, what’s important to the country, and where we should be headed. If it hadn’t been for Howard Dean getting his ass whipped for saying the politically incorrect truth about Iraq, it might not have become the conventional wisdom it is today.

Bill Moyers has a number of political positions that are similar to Russ Feingold’s or Al Gore’s, but he would sketch out those positions from a different vantage point, a different angle based on his very different background. Moyers and Feingold and Gore could triangulate for voters, creating a three-dimensional foundation for progressive philosophies and policies that could include people from a wide variety of geographic, religious, cultural and economic backgrounds. Adding Barack Obama as a presidential candidate — who refers to himself as a moderate but who if you listen carefully is really, I think, trying to say that liberalism is moderate — would just put the icing on the cake. Wouldn’t you just love to see some nationally televised debates between Russ Feingold, Al Gore, Bill Moyers and Barack Obama? Together, the four as candidates could create a new center for Democratic thinking, a new set of presumptions for policy thinking… and that new direction that the pundits keep asking for.

Run, Russ, run.
Run, Al, run.
Run, Bill, run.
Run, Barack, run.

Run, run, all of you.

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