Dear John, you’ll be missed

John Edwards’ decision today to end his presidential campaign saddens me. But my respect for him has never been greater. I was a supporter of his in 2004. After he and Kerry lost that year, Edwards began devoting himself to ending poverty in America and making plans to run again this year. Here was a candidate for the highest office in the land willing to stake his candidacy on a cause — poverty, economic injustice — most politicians will at most give lip service to.

In announcing his decision to stop campaigning, Edwards said he doesn’t know how it is his party became so silent about the needs of the millions of Americans struggling to get by:

For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn’t register in political polls, they didn’t get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn’t afford to pay for heat.

Edwards was not a perfect candidate. Like others, I was unhappy to see him building a multi-million dollar mansion in Chapel Hill, NC while championing the cause of the working class. Yes, Edwards is a very wealthy man. But I’m not cynical enough to believe his campaign themes were politically expedient or hypocritical. Does anyone think speaking out for the poor was his ticket to election? His announcement today, set in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, proves otherwise.

As Time magazine reports, his efforts have not been for naught:

Edwards leaves the race having made a big impact on the two remaining candidates. His populist rhetoric forced his rivals to compete for union support, and he was the first out of the gate with detailed plans for universal healthcare and education, putting pressure on the field to match him. “He led on just about every single issue: poverty, economic stimulus to universal healthcare,” said Joe Trippi, a senior adviser to Edwards’ campaign. “He pushed both of them further than they would’ve gone without him. When they wanted to blur the lines and not have real proposals, he came out with them and forced the others to move ahead.”

Edwards underscored this today:

Now, I’ve spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency. And more importantly, they have pledged to me that as President of the United States they will make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their Presidency. This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause.

I’m sad John Edwards won’t be our next president. But I believe he made Clinton and Obama better candidates, and when one of them occupies the Oval Office a year from now, we will become a better country.

January 30th, 2008
Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »


  1. Of course, Time doesn’t make much light of what I felt was the biggest reason Edwards’ campaign wasn’t able to gain traction: the media. The stuff they mentioned was a smokescreen, and to me, irrelevant. The media made this race about two people: Clinton and Obama. Even after Edwards placed 2nd in Iowa, beating Clinton, he still wasn’t given anything resembling adequete press coverage. He was always in the shadow of those two candidates, because the media put him there.

    Comment by Jeff — February 1, 2008 @ 6:10 am

  2. BTW, this is an excellent observation of how Edwards was marginalized by mainstream Democrats:

    Comment by Jeff — February 3, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

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