Variations on a Theme

Since the point of an election campaign is for the candidate to say “vote for me and not the other guy” the tendency is for differences to become exaggerated, especially as the partisans of one or the other candidate start drawing lines in the sand. But I think my former editor Harold Meyerson nails the fundamental similarity between Barack Obama and John Edwards, arguing that the former is running more like an early twentieth century Progressive while Edwards is running more like a Populist, but “Obama is a rather populist progressive, a onetime community organizer who understands the power of organized popular protest. And Edwards is a progressive populist, heir to Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, not William Jennings Bryan or Huey Long.” Which isn’t to say that are no differences in the Democratic field but rather, as Meyerson says, that it’s a far cry from some of the hotly contested Democratic primaries of yore when large ideological choices were clearly on the table.