To give you a little back story, your friendly neighborhood troublemakers here at Jack and Jill Politics decided to each post on whom we’d be most likely to vote for if we were voting in Iowa today. Which we ain’t because there ain’t any black people in Iowa. No dis to the 37 black people living in Iowa — y’all know what I mean.

rikyrah and Jack Turner have both weighed in with excellent, well-written, well-considered posts for their man Brother Barack Obama. Their posts are persuasive.

dnA so far has provided this comment on Jack’s post (in case you didn’t see it):

Two Things:

1. If Matt Stoller bothered to check out any of the campaigns beyond reading other blogs, he’d know that Obama emphasizes transitional employment for ex-offenders…something that John Edwards doesn’t. This was one of the big issues for me in deciding Edwards sincerity on the issue; there is no way to attack poverty without dealing with the fact that 2/3 of the people who get out of prison go back in within three years.

That “son of a millworker” story is great, but what about the son of crackhead or a drug dealer? Don’t these kids deserve a second, or even a first chance? The focus on charles dickens-like stereotypes of saintly poor people makes me question the sincerity of any poverty platform that doesn’t also include significant reforms of our criminal justice system.

Obama has a record on that. Edwards doesn’t. Clinton’s husband has a record of just locking as many people up as possible and throwing away the key.

If you care about poverty or criminal justice, who else would you choose from among the front runners?

Also, persuasive.

So you are probably wondering where I would come down. How would I vote if I had to vote in Iowa today? I don’t have a whole lot of research for you. Like most Americans, I sift through what I read or hear on the news and blogs from the candidates. Then I balance that with the overall national and international environment — what challenges are we facing — to determine who might be the best candidate suited to the job. That includes looking at the opposing candidates. Finally, I talk to the people around me to get their opinions in case they see something I don’t.

That naturally includes my mother and Big Mama. I am pretty sure that both of them would vote for Hillary Clinton in part because she is a known quantity. She has no learning curve. She can address the tough issues from day one on the job. Neither agreed with all of the Clinton’s policies but they certainly didn’t run the country into a ditch like the current president. That’s a really valid argument in my opinion in favor of Clinton — she is the least likely to screw things up any worse than they are now and the safest bet to pull the country back from the brink.

Also, they’ve lived through a number of black presidential candidates and both have questions about Obama’s electability. Will white people actually vote for him? Guess we will find out by the end of today.

That said, I am confident that both my father and one of my grandfathers would have pulled the lever for Obama without hesitation in support of a strong black candidate. The other would have voted for Clinton for pragmatic reasons. And because he would have suspected Obama as just another vanity black candidate and puppet of white masters.

As for myself, I find most of the Democratic candidates in the field appealing in many ways, repugnant or disappointing in others. None seems as visionary or as progressive as the challenges ahead of us seem to demand.

If I had to pull the lever today in Iowa, I think I would have to vote for Barack Obama. I don’t have any illusions about Obama. I think many are hoping that once in office, he might show a more openly progressive agenda. However, safety is a way of life. He is safe now. “Safe” has been a successful and winning strategy for Obama. And to keep those approval ratings up as president, he would be likely to stay safe within certain conservative bounds.

A vote for Barack Obama also would be historic. The fact that an African-American has a shot at winning in two of America’s whitest states is nothing short of amazing. While I am thrilled at Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency, can one deny that she is in part riding on her husband’s coattails and that a vote for her is partly a vote for him. Furthermore, both Edwards and Clinton are conservative candidates — each represents a backward-looking vote whereas Obama is a new voice for the future. We can all look back at the Clinton years as relatively peaceful and prosperous years and how many Republicans now wonder what the world would look like under a Kerry-Edwards administration as opposed to the sinister chuckleheads now running our government.

Obama, say what you like about him, is self-made and can relate to regular people’s lives because he’s struggled to pay a mortgage, manage student loans, save for his children’s education and still try to make something of himself — just like the rest of us. I think the other candidates once had that going for them too especially John Edwards but proximity to wealth and power can sometimes change how you see the world and the people in it. I know a lot of bloggers like Edwards and I like him and his platform too. I think Clinton and Obama offer him strong competition. I’ll be impressed with a strong showing for him.

So in short — color me still officially undecided until I have to vote in my home state soon. Guess I betta get to work on making up my mind!

I wish all the candidates and their staff and supporters’ good luck today.

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