Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Moyers for President?

Ralph Nader has proposed that former journalist Bill Moyers run as a Democrat for the Presidency of the U.S. in ’08. This is certainly a far more helpful progressive suggestion than his own Green Candidacy was. Earlier this year, historian Howard Zinn proposed Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund as a candidate. Both suggestions show creative thinking that gets beyond the usual cast of (incredibly compromised) characters. Yet both suggestions are of knowledgeable, informed people who are qualified both constitutionally and practically:

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.

Edelman is

  • A veteran of the nonviolent civil rights movement, both as a student at Spelman and then as a lawyer who helped to create Head Start.
  • A former worker with Bobby Kennedy’s campaign.
  • Daughter of an African-American Baptist minister whose personal faith is well-known and whose marriage to a practicing Jew (Peter Edelman, law professor at Georgetown University) gives her insight into our pluralistic society.
  • A near-top-of -class graduate of Yale Law School and, as the head of Children’s Defense Fund, someone who has years of experience getting progressive legislation through Congress in a bi-partisan matter.
  • Someone whose domestic agenda would put children first; a welcome change from politics driven by corporate or military ideologies.

Are there other such non-traditional candidates that could truly lead in a different direction? What kinds of characteristics should we look for in a presidential candidate? (I will blog my ideas on that last question in a later post.) While I don’t think all our candidates should be Harvard and Yale grads (although a huge number of presidents have come from those schools) or all career lawyers and/or career politicians, I do think experience and knowledge count. People from outside the system should be bright enough to learn the system–or they will be puppets for others. I’m interested in ideas from both Democrats and Republicans for non-traditional candidates: non-Congress, non-Senate–and why they would be good candidates. Non-U.S. citizens should feel free to join in since an outside perspective could be helpful.

Constitutional requirements: The candidate must be a native-born U.S. citizen (only office off-limits to naturalized citizens), 35 years of age or more. Looking forward to your replies. If you don’t have a blogger account and want to reply, get one. You don’t need an actual blog.

October 28, 2006 - Posted by | U.S. politics


  1. I’d vote for Moyers or Edelmen.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | October 30, 2006

  2. Me, too, Dan, but whom else would you nominate and why?

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 30, 2006

  3. Wendell Berry who, if nominated, wouldn’t run unfortunately.

    Why? Because he makes more sense in one paragraph of writing than W has made in his unending presence in office. He, too, does not claim to pacifism (and I agree that a pacifist could not be elected today), yet has an excellent feel for the true cost of war.

    And the true costs of our fossil fuel dependency. And the true costs of our agricultural abyss.

    If I were nominating him, that might be my theme: Wendell Berry is a man who can count the cost aright, and make suggestions on sane policies in light of those costs.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | October 30, 2006

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