eRiposte articulates in great detail more reservations about Obama by discussing his history of running against progressives. He basically says the progressive movement that grew up around Moveon and Dean will be hindered by Obama. I agree with this. Obama wants a new movement, and he's building one, instead of the off-the-shelf one that's available. Obviously, as a tried and true card-carrying member of this progressive movement, I'm not a fan of his strategy.
I also think there's something deeper than insider-y movement nitpicks. Take this for example.
All three candidates promised to change fast-track law, under which trade agreements are negotiated by the executive branch and can be approved or rejected by Congress, but not amended. The last fast-track law expired over the summer, but the next president, whether a Republican or a Democrat, would be expected to seek new authority.
Obama said he would "replace Fast Track" with a new process that includes an analysis of labor and environmental standards in a prospective trade agreement partner, while Edwards said a new trade negotiating system was needed. Clinton said she would not seek new fast track authority until completing a review of all existing trade agreements and until she crafts a new trade policy.
These are potentially very significant differences between the candidates. The key problem with our trade regime is that capital flows are controlled by corporate interests with substantially more legal rights than labor, or even nation-states. Sirota among many others has pointed this out.
A Canadian company wants to open a new plant in Claremont, N.H., to bottle fresh water from a source in Stockbridge, Vt.
But if Vermont wants to limit how much water the company takes, it may run afoul of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
States around the country are growing increasingly worried about the threats posed to their laws and regulations by the secret tribunals that resolve disputes in international trade. Experts say everything from environmental rules to the licensing of nurses and other professionals could be affected.
Edwards is saying we need a different trading regime. Obama is saying our trading regime needs to incorporate labor and environmental standards. And Clinton thinks existing agreements need to be tweaked. Both Obama and Clinton voted for the NAFTA-style Peru trade deal because they believe this, while Edwards opposed the deal.
This is a very significant different. And it's one reason why the progressive movement is likely to be strengthened by Edwards, because he will bring together the anti-globalizers and the new progressives that grew up in the wake of Iraq. Clinton has her movement, centered in DC at the Center for American Progress, and Obama has his liberal technocrats and Oprah-esque change independents. Obviously these groups will all blur and will combine and split apart around any candidate. It's just a question of who is explicitly empowered by the candidate right off the bat.