Transcript: Congresswoman Donna Edwards at the Democratic National Convention. 25 August 2008

Thom and Congresswoman Donna Edwards, the newest congresswoman, discussed the most important issues affecting working families, the economy, super delegate (she is one), Republican tactics and themes, and the historic change in having both a black and a woman candidate.

Thom Hartmann talks with Congresswoman Donna Edwards at the Democratic National Convention, 25 August 2008

[Thom Hartmann]: Sitting opposite me is Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Donna you are the US Congresswoman from the fourth district of Maryland and you're a recently minted congresswoman, right?

[Donna Edwards]: That's right. I was sworn in on June 19th and so I'm a short-timer, the most freshman member of the United States Congress.

[Thom Hartmann]: Well congratulations, and welcome, well I can't say as a peer welcome, but it's great. I don't know what the appropriate welcome would be beyond that.

[Donna Edwards]: Welcome is good.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah, OK, fine. First of all, in Maryland's fourth district and broadly across the country, what's your sense of the issues that are really at play here? During the break we were talking briefly and you mentioned energy and the foreclosure crisis. These, your sense is that these are the really big issues?

[Donna Edwards]: I think these issues, I mean, especially to the extent that they are deeply impacting our overall economy, are hitting people really hard. I mean, we've had massive job loss across the country in communities throughout the country whether they were doing well not. And Maryland is actually a relatively wealthy state, but we're facing tremendous numbers of foreclosures around our state and that's impacting deeply into our economy and that's certainly true across the country. I mean, Congress has had to act, but we may have to act again because it may not have been enough.

[Thom Hartmann]: It seems to me that we are on the edge of something, that this may well be a 1929 kind of time right now. We had the, you know, starting with the dotcom bubble, you know, as our manufacturing base basically vanished as a consequence of twenty years of Reaganomics we became a bubble economy. It was like there was like there was just, you know, one thing after another; the dotcom bubble, the housing bubble, the commodities bubble, you know, oil and gold and things. And now it seems like there's actually a credit bubble, that, you know, we've been making up, middle class Americans have been making up for our loss of wages by borrowing. And there's this, and the government has been making up for the lack of revenue ever since the Reagan tax cuts by borrowing. And so there's this mind boggling amount of debt out there and if that pops, if that, you know, we have a liquidity crisis, I mean, that liquidity crisis is the fancy phrase the economists use to describe what happened in 1929 through 1933.

[Donna Edwards]: Well it is a really challenging time. I mean, I also think, you know, we have a lot of corporations across the country that have actually made tremendous profits, particularly over the last eight years of the Bush Administration and yet wages have remained absolutely stagnant. It's not sustainable. And so, you know, I'm excited actually, we're here at the Democratic Convention, I'm really excited about the nomination of Barack Obama. I think that you know, come January we will have an opportunity to create some amazing transformation in this country and really do job creation and think about the jobs of the 21st century instead of building off of the old economy.

[Thom Hartmann]: What are the things that, we're talking with Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland's 4th district, what are the things that the Republicans threw against you when you were running, and to what extent do you see themes emerging, attack themes or for that matter even positive themes, out of the Republican side. And how is, and how do Democrats respond to these?

[Donna Edwards]: Well, you know, I really ran in a Democratic primary against a relatively conservative Democrat in our district and I ran on a progressive agenda that was about living wages and universal health care and energy for the future, not about drilling, but about investing in alternatives. And our voters thought that and I think that that's where voters across the country are right now which is why this election is so important, because it really is not just an election about change but what kind of change and change that's really progressive change for the future.

[Thom Hartmann]: As, I'm assuming you're a delegate if not a super delegate. You would be a super delegate, right?

[Donna Edwards]: It turns out that I am.

[Thom Hartmann]: But not also a delegate, or are there some who are actually, some super delegates who are also, who were elected and are representing one of the candidates?

[Donna Edwards]: Well, there are super delegates who, you know, who come from this array of members of congress and other elected officials in our state or governor, and then we have regular elected delegates and some of those happen to hold elective office locally.

[Thom Hartmann]: I see, but there are no super delegates are also elected delegates.

[Donna Edwards]: No.

[Thom Hartmann]: That would be, you know. OK.

[Donna Edwards]: That would be really front loading, if anything.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah, yeah. That would be kind of, you know, I'm actually one of the few people who favor the super delegate program. I think that a political party is a club, essentially, and I like the idea that people who have a long term commitment and have put their lives on the line for the club and have given their lives to the club, to have a little more say in the club than somebody who just joined yesterday.

[Donna Edwards]: Well, it turns out they don't actually have a little more say. I mean, it's a balance, right, so what we have is a system where we have a balance of elected delegates who are representative, who come out of our primaries and our caucuses, and then that is balanced off with the super delegates, people who have deeper knowledge, experience and commitment to the party. And we've managed to strike that balance in conventions past and we're going to strike it with this one and into the future.

[Thom Hartmann]: We've seen some themes emerge, congresswoman. We're talking with congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland's 4th district. We've seen some themes emerge already. Joe Biden in his acceptance speech asking which of the seven kitchen tables would John and Cindy be sitting around as they're discussing their household finances. Joe Biden has such a, you know, it's like the noun, the verb, and 9/11. He just basically took down Rudi Giuliani. He's got such a way with words. What are the, in your opinion, what are the most effective of the themes and the memes, the thought viruses, the ideas, that the Democrats are putting out and can put out or maybe should put out and haven't, to take on John McCain directly and take on the Republican Party. We need a majority in the Senate as well, a super majority.

[Donna Edwards]: Well, you know, if you look at our ticket an Obama/Biden ticket is a ticket of working families and working people, folks who weren't handed something, but who really worked hard for it, who came from modest, very modest means, rose up, got their education, took care of their families, their children, and made a commitment to their community. And that's the ticket we have and it is one that's representative of America. And I know I felt that in my own election in the February primary where the wave that was sweeping, the tidal wave that was sweeping across this country was saying we actually want to elect people who understand, the folks who get up every day and go to work and work hard for their families for a living. And I think that the Obama/Biden ticket represents exactly that, the achievement of the American dream, and it's an exciting one.

[Thom Hartmann]: You are personally, if I may suggest, at the confluence of the historic woman and the historic African American as an African American woman yourself. And I'm curious what your thoughts are on the whole dynamic of gender and of race in the primary and in this election and how particularly the gender end of it might be playing out in some of the, the really effort that people like Drudge are putting into causing Hillary Clinton delegates to feel badly.

[Donna Edwards]: Well, I have deep roots as a longtime feminist working on issues of domestic violence and equality for women for, you know, twenty to twenty or so years and when I get up in the morning I am both an African American and I'm a woman. And I feel that really deeply and I feel incredibly proud that it was the Democratic Party that had the capacity to have these two candidacies rise to the fore. I mean, I think that it's an amazing thing that speaks to who we are as Democrats and who we are as the American people. And so I know I don't feel badly. I mean, I have been Barack Obama supporter from the beginning, but very proud of the efforts put forward by Hillary Clinton, and I'm the first African American woman elected to congress from the state of Maryland.

[Thom Hartmann]: Really!

[Donna Edwards]: Yes, and so this year to me feels historic in so many different ways. We are breaking barriers all over the place and the Obama ticket is one barrier and the Hillary Clinton campaign for the presidency was another barrier and it's exciting to be a Democrat in this kind of party that can have that kind of feel.

[Thom Hartmann]: We saw in Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr's race, naked racism being played. I'm, you know, I think we saw sexism being played, you know, against Hillary Clinton, I don't think by the Obama campaign specifically, but it was certainly in the press. Do you think that we're past those things? Or actually I think we could probably agree we're not past those things as a country, that they're real and they're problems, but have we got, have we reached the point where as Democrats when people try to, when the Republicans try to trot that stuff out, we'll be able to slap it down?

[Donna Edwards]: I think we've reached the point as Americans where, when that sort of thing rises we'll be able to slap it down. I mean, I grew up in a military family. My father actually joined the Air Force in that first class of an integrated Air Force and we've seen tremendous changes and challenges, you know, in this country and I believe that as an American, we are so much better than the muck.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yes.

[Donna Edwards]: And this election is going to prove that.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah, there you go, and there's plenty of muck and muck throwers out there tragically, but I agree with you. I think that this is a watershed event and it's actually transforming America even as at the same kind it represents the transformation that's happening at the same time. It's generative. Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Maryland's fourth district, her web site, congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us.

[Donna Edwards]: Thank you too, Thom.

[Thom Hartmann]: Great talking with you.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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