Before the winter holidays I was assigned to go to Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 3 so I could cover the presidential caucuses for the People’s Weekly World.

Honestly, I was quite nervous, but as time passed I became more excited than ever.
I knew in the end this trip would be worth the experience.

And let me tell you, I came back fired up!

PWW labor editor John Wojcik and I arrived in Des Moines Jan.2, on the eve of one of the potentially most important moments in recent U.S. political history.

We got a lead about an Obama rally taking place at Hoover High School on the northwest side of the city, and we jumped to the occasion even after driving six hours from Chicago.

The school gym was packed with well over a thousand supporters, young and old, white, Black and others. It was a sight to see, full of spirit and excitement.

Barack Obama spoke about the great turning points in U.S. history where the American people came together against great odds, changing the course of our political landscape.

Obama said, if it were not for the American people, we would not have been able to abolish slavery or win women’s right to vote.

He added that it was the American people that helped forge the united front coalition that defeated fascism in World War II. And it was the American people and especially youth and students of all nationalities who got on buses, in cars and vans and traveled to Alabama and Mississippi to brave fire hoses, dogs and police, and even died, all in the name of freedom’s cause during the civil rights movement.

Today, in the midst of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led by the Bush administration, and after 30 years of right-wing Republican domination, where workers of all nationalities have undergone countless setbacks, there is a strong indication that real hope, unity and change for a new direction is possible.

I had not made up my mind entirely about who, out of the top three Democratic candidates, Obama, Hillary Clinton or John Edwards, I would vote for in my primary elections on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, in Chicago.

I am sure that if it were not for Dennis Kucinich and other progressive Democrats, including those in Congress who speak for the millions of working class people and our struggle for social justice, that the presidential debates on health care, labor rights, affordable college tuition, or putting an end to the Iraq war, would not have moved more and more toward building a left-center all-people’s agenda.

It is the progressive Democrats and their allies on the left and the tens of thousands of independent and first-time voters, including Republicans who are fed up with the Bush policies, who are making history with record turnouts on Jan. 3 in Iowa and on Jan. 9 in New Hampshire.

Now mind you, Iowa is a majority white state that is known for being Republican, yet Obama won the state with Edwards second and Clinton third.

And in New Hampshire, Clinton barely won the primary, slightly ahead of Obama with Edwards far behind. Let us also not forget that Bill Richardson, who came in fourth among the Democratic candidates, is Mexican American and had the strongest position on ending the Iraq war on his first day in office, if elected president.

The fact that a woman, an African American and a Mexican American have each been running excellent campaigns, making it difficult for voters to decide, voters who sincerely want real political change, is truly a revolutionary, special moment in our history.

As believers in social justice, as fighters for peace and equality, and as movement shakers and makers for multi-racial working class unity, it is our responsibility to constantly spell out our vision for change and a better world in a language that ordinary people understand.

It is our task to champion people’s causes and win their active involvement and their willingness to become agents of change.

When people work together to build broad-based unity through coalitions, or by organizing workers and creating real conditions for a long-lasting movement for change, that is fundamentally in the interests of all of us, whether we are aware of it or not.

Together the movement becomes ours and it becomes a tidal wave that carries our passion for peace, justice and equality forward, step by step, in a new direction with a new voice, the people’s voice.

In Iowa and in New Hampshire and in the future primaries, it’s not really about Obama, Clinton or Edwards. I realized the voter upsurge was not about them at all, because their election is bigger than them. Their victory would be a victory for all of us.

In my opinion they would all make great presidents, far better than what we have had the past seven years, and some would even make significant turning points in history.

So what gives me hope, and makes me feel part of a real movement for change in this country?

I realized on the way home from Iowa that my experience there was really about witnessing the outpouring of voters, it was not really about Obama, Edwards or Clinton, it was about the American people.

It was their drive for change that won me over.

As voters, we have to hold ourselves accountable for what we decide the fate of this great American movement for change becomes.

Like Obama said, we could be the ones who make another shift in the great history pages in this country.

In the end the American people will have the final say, and we are saying the time for change is now.

Plozano @ pww.org

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