You might have noticed that a John Edwards for President ’08 badge has appeared on this blog. It’s there because I’ve made my decision. I am supporting former senator John Edwards (D-NC) in his campaign for president of the United States. Of the three leading Democratic candidates (the others being senators Hillary Clinton and senators Barack Obama) I have decided that John Edwards most closely represents my positions on the core issues of the day and more importantly, I have absolutely no doubt that in a general election, he is the most electable candidate.
N.B. This is not a traditional endorsement. There will be no long-winded reasoning about why I like senator Edwards. I realize you kinda deserve that, but my piece is more about why you should listen to him, Dodd, etc. I plan on updating you guys on Edwards’ qualifications and positions on a regular basis, however.
When I mention to friends that I am supporting Edwards, I almost always get “Edwards is so far down in the polls, why bother?” or “Hillary has it locked up.” This kind of attitude drive me absolutely batshit insane. A response like that, writing off the rest of the field 14 months before election day and a year before the nominating conventions is incredibly stupid and undemocratic. Not only that, it’s damn dangerous. Many of the same people that write off Edwards concede that he’s likely the most electable candidate from either party and the one most likely to kick the snot out of the GOP, whomever they run. Why then, do people (and irresponsible so-called news organizations) continue to defraud the people of the United States by trying to force the campaign into a match race instead of acknowledging the field?
The national media also seems intent on cutting to the chase as soon as possible. In fact, Slate ran a piece on how Newsweek was already calling it a two-horse race back in December of 2006! The mainstream media are all running national poll results, a problematic approach at best. Why? At this point in the campaign nation polls are almost completely irrelevant. Even the polls comparing one Democrat and one Republican in a mock national election are more or less pointless. We don’t elect presidents using the popular vote, so any polls besides state-by-state polls are dubious at best and harmful at worst. Even then, the number of undecided voters are often high enough to render even state-by-state polls useless. The problem is, most of the country gets their news from the mainstream media. CNN, Newsweek, Time and the others are pimping the Clinton v. Obama race for all it’s worth and as a result are committing a fraud against the American people and if I were you, I wouldn’t stand for it.
Why is it fraud? Let’s take the example of Dennis Kucinich who by any realistic measure doesn’t have a chance in hell at winning the election. That said, writing him and other candidates off so early in the race deprives the electorate of hearing his views and the public debate suffers. Whatever money he has will dry up because Time, Newsweek, etc. have decided he’s a nobody and his donors will migrate either to the next left of center candidate still in the race or more likely, take their wallets and sign boards and go home. With Kucinich, Richardson and Dodd still in the race and debates, you get to hear varying positions on issues ranging from gay marriage to the war in Iraq to healthcare and that’s the whole point of lengthy campaigns. [Ok, ours are obscenely long and maybe we ought to do something about that, but that's a different post.] We need to hear Richardson’s opinions on immigration and Edwards’ thoughts on the labor movement and poverty and we need to hear Kucinich’s opinions on everything, to be honest. The longer these candidates are in the public eye, the better for everyone.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter was “Jimmy Who?” until he surprised everyone by winning in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois and Bill Clinton didn’t even declare his candidacy until October 2nd, 1991, the equivalent of about month from now. In February 1992 I traveled to Dover, New Hampshire to help a friend of mine who was working for Iowa senator Tom Harkin in his run for the presidency. Clinton was still a fringe candidate and was rapidly becoming a scandal-plagued joke. Even as late as the eve of Super Tuesday (which in 92 came in mid-March) most of us didn’t think Clinton was going to win. Of course he ran the table in the southern states and was effectively the nominee after March 10th. What I’m trying to say is, assuming the race is over is a negative and potentially self-fulfilling prophecy. Let them run!
What’s my point? Let’s give the American people the right to choose from a full state of candidates. As individual, politically-minded, voting Americans, you owe it to your country not to write anyone off. Is your local paper doing that? Drop them an email and point out that they are cheating their readers of the chance to be a fully-informed electorate and might just be contributing to cheating the country of the best president it can get. The next time one of your friends ignorantly tells you that “so and so doesn’t have a chance,” point out that history may prove them right, but let’s make sure it’s for the right reasons. Let’s make sure the American people get the best-possible government that’s actually chosen (albeit indirectly) by the people and not by the media, special interests or the Supreme Court.
Photo of John Edwards by George P. Stern