Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why we’ll miss John Edwards

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John Edwards was my choice, for reasons like the following (from an email sent by the Center for American Progress):

Returning to where he began, former North Carolina senator John Edwards ended his presidential campaign yesterday in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward, imploring his supporters to “not give up on the causes that we have fought for” in the effort “to make the two Americas one.” During his campaign, Edwards laid out policy areas that will continue to animate the national debate in 2008, calling “for the United States to reduce its troop presence in Iraq” and issuing “a plea for citizen action to combat poverty, global warming and America’s reliance on foreign oil.” As CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric said last night, “John Edwards may have ended his presidential campaign. But what he started isn’t over. He and his message have left a lasting impression.”

PUTTING POVERTY FIRST: No issue was more important to Edwards than poverty and the plight of economic inequality in America, which he sought to cut by a third in a decade and end within 30 years. In his farewell speech, Edwards said that he had obtained pledges from the remaining Democratic candidates, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), to “make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their presidency.” Edwards’s efforts to guarantee that “his quest for economic justice would be carried forward” is emblematic of the role he played throughout the campaign, boldly challenging his fellow candidates to take on big issues with progressive policy prescriptions. The Center for American Progress shares Edwards’s goals, having offered a plan to cut poverty in half in ten years. Last week, the House of Representatives, without objection, approved a resolution by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), declaring that the House supported the goal of cutting poverty in half in ten years.

GUARANTEEING HEALTH CARE: When Edwards unveiled his health care plan “in early 2007, it won widespread acclaim for proposing” to “cover everybody and make health care, once and for all, a right of citizenship.” As The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn notes, it was “something no mainstream…presidential contender had proposed since the early 1990s.” Soon after he rolled out his proposal, other candidates followed suit, embracing his ambitious goal. The American Prospect’s Ezra Klein writes that “the mixture of a progressive, transformative health care plan and a credible candidate instantly reshaped the politics of health care.” By proposing a universal health care plan “long before that of any other major candidate,” Edwards changed the debate so that “any politician who proposed an overly cautious or incremental plan would lose voters.” As The New York Times’s Paul Krugman wrote in Feb. 2007, Edwards’s plan addressed “both the problem of the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system,” which forced other candidates to “come up with something comparable.”

COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE: Declaring that “our generation must be the one that says, ‘we must halt global warming,'” Edwards was “the first presidential candidate to call for reducing U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent by 2050” and the first to make his “campaign carbon neutral.” Following Edwards’s lead, both Clinton and Obama made similar commitments to reduce carbon emissions. As he did with health care, Edwards was the first candidate to introduce a detailed energy plan. After Edwards laid out his plan, the League of Conservation Voters applauded it as “the most comprehensive global warming plan of any presidential candidate to date” and encouraged other candidates to follow suit. As The Atlantic’s Matthew Yglesias wrote yesterday of Edwards, “his climate change proposal is sweeping enough to meet the standard that scientists tell us is necessary to avert catastrophe,” which might sound “bizarre to hail” as an achievement, “but the truth is that” other candidates “weren’t on board until Edwards was.”

BRINGING TROOPS HOME: In 2002, Edwards voted in the Senate to authorize the use of force against Iraq, a vote that he did not repudiate as both a presidential and vice-presidential candidate in 2004, even though he was a critic of the war. But on Nov. 13, 2005, Edwards penned an op-ed in the Washington Post definitively declaring that “it was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002,” saying, “I was wrong.” As a presidential candidate, Edwards insisted that “there is no military solution to the chaos in Iraq” and called for “an immediate withdrawal of 40,000-50,000 troops and a complete withdrawal within nine to ten months.” Unlike New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Edwards never committed to removing all residual troops from Iraq, but he did take the lead in committing to “withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police.” As the Center for American Progress’s Brian Katulis and Lawrence Korb have argued, “[T]raining and equipping Iraqi security forces risks making Iraq’s civil war even bloodier and more vicious than it already is today.”

Written by Leisureguy

31 January 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

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