Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and Minorities out of Poverty?

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Cross-posted at http://francislholland.blogspot.com/

This is an historical and political analysis of the central premise that underlies John Edwards' claim to the Presidency.  This essay asks and explores the question, "Why Will Electing John Edwards Raise Women and Minorities Out of Poverty?" Everything in the above graphic represents only my own original paraphrased appreciation of the thrust of arguments made by others.

Everyone who has superficially studied the problem of American poverty knows that, although all demographic groups are represented among the poor, women and minorities are more likely to be poor than other segments of our society (e.g. white men).  

In fact, historical patterns of discrimination that legally prevented women and minorities from buying and owning property, opening bank accounts, and moving to areas where opportunities were greater - all of these governmentally sponsored factors and more led to the feminization and the "racialization" of poverty.  The poverty of Blacks began when we were forced to work for free, with government returning us to our "owners" if we escaped slavery with the intention of being paid for our own labor.

In light of this history of the causes of poverty, it is quite impossible to talk about alleviating poverty without discussing how to systematically root out the carefully lain government sponsored roots of poverty in de jure and de facto gender and color-based discrimination.  To the degree that there is anything at all that the government is still doing that intentionally or effectively disadvantages the target populations of a proposed new poverty program, to be effective in alleviating poverty government must stop doing anything and everything that has historically led and continues to lead to the feminization and colorization of poverty.

Let's face it:  Poverty programs are expensive.  Just gathering the statistics to know whether the programs are succeeding or not typically costs millions of dollars, while any intervention to lift people from poverty costs more still.  The Republican criticism of the poverty programs of the 1960's is that liberals were unwilling to examine the assumptions underlying these programs and were similarly unwilling to carefully measure whether the programs actually worked or not.  

But there is one assumption that neither Republicans nor Democrats have been willing to examine: the unexamined assumption that women and minorities can be lifted out of poverty without increasing the representation of women and minorities in government. The corollary unexamined assumption is "women and minorities can be lifted out of poverty by increasing the power of white men." Effectively, every time we vote for a white man over a woman or minority, we vote to increase the overall power of that demographic group while maintaining the political powerlessnes of the other demographic groups.

The assumption that government sponsored poverty programs and benefits can improve the condition of women and minorities without increased access for women and minorities to the levers of power is an untested and unproven assumption that has provided precious little enduring results in the past.  But the economic status of women and minorities HAS consistently improved when their  voting rights and access to elective office have increased.  It makes intuitive sense that the political will to continue supporting poverty programs will be stronger if members of the demographic group benefiting from the programs are in elective office, where they can vote to continue funding for programs that are helpful to them.  

Arguably the most enduring government-sponsored act of the 20th Century toward alleviating poverty was the guarantee to women and minorities of the right to vote and hold elective office - a right that we had never had before the 20th Century.  And, arguably, a substantial portion of the enduring alleviation of poverty that has occurred has come directly from the new right of women and minorities vote for candidates who represent our interests and to hold office and thereby help fashion an economy and  legal framework in which women and minorities, too, are likely to prosper.

Here is but one example of how increased political power within a demographic group leads to increased economic well-being:  If you want to open a small business, you generally need a business license and various other government approvals.  Ostensibly, licenses are granted according to Byzantine rules that anyone can master with sufficient lawyers and money.  However, in most places, personally knowing the members of the various licensing boards (or the officials who appointed the licensing officials) is very helpful in obtaining crucial information and businesses licenses that allow a person to open a business, work and improve the financial condition of self and family.  To the extent that a demographic group lacks this informal access, it will also lack access to the government when it needs government licences and permitting.

Considering how many people are not poor because they have started businesses that result in steady income, it seems obvious that electing more women and minorities to government for the purpose of helping each other to obtain information access, and business licenses is an obvious anti-poverty intervention.  

Until the Civil War, white men used their control of state and national government to prevent slaves from successfully escaping and competing with white men for the proceeds of Black men's labor.  White men forbade women to work outside the home, effectively forcing women to work for white men.  If only white men ran the government today, would they not use their control of business licenses to preclude women and minorities from opening competing businesses, just as they once used their political power to prevent Blacks and women from opening bank accounts?  

Isn't it true that whomever holds the reigns of government tends to make more money?

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America has tried various solutions to end poverty, but increasing women and minorities' participation in government has never explicitly been one of the government-sponsored solutions.  Is this solution so absurd that it ought not be tried, at least once, particularly considering that many other solutions that have been mostly unavailing are nonetheless tried over and over again?

Enter John Edwards:  Let's ignore, for a moment, the fact that electing John Edwards would perpetuate the historical pattern of disadvantaging women and minorities by never electing a president who is not a white male.  Let's focus specifically and exclusively for a moment on the extraordinary claim that underlies John Edwards' claim to the presidency. 

John Edwards says that America's most urgent problem is poverty, and he proposes that we elect him President and give him 30 years to alleviate this problem.  But, most importantly for this discussion: While running for President against three liberal Democrats who are members of the target demograpic groups most affected by poverty (women, Blacks and Latinos), John Edwards has made the extraordinary and counter-intuitive assertion that electing him, a white man, is the best way to reduce the poverty of women, Blacks, and Latinos.  

Of course, Edwards' is a self-serving premise, i.e., "The best way to help THEM is to give something to ME!" But showing that the premise is self-serving does not, by itself, prove that the premise is incorrect.  It merely make the premise suspect.

It is not impossible that electing John Edwards can help to alleviate poverty.  The question is, "Is electing John Edwards the BEST way to alleviate the poverty of women and minorities who have historically lacked the political power to organize society in a way that would support their economic enfranchisement?  

When a politician claims that giving food to people in Washington DC will reduce hunger in Washington DC, then we are apt to agree.  But when a politician claims that giving food to people in Boston is the best way to decrease hunger in Milwaulkee, that is an EXTRAORDINARY claim that requires extraordinary analysis of the assumptions underlying the proposed program.    

Many people will demand to know how giving a liberal Democratic woman or minority the power to help shape the economy and the economic framework within which business operate would help lift women and minorities out of poverty.  To me, this is like the question, "How will the distribution of food in Boston help to alleviate the problem of hunger in Boston?" It's like asking, "How will giving a fisherman a boat help him to fish?" People who have access to the resources the need are more likely to use those resources to improve their circumstances.  If this is NOT so, then nothing Government does will help women and minorities.  So, the question is whether to hand out more benefits or to empower women and minorities to benefit from sharing the reigns of power.

If one of the reasons for governing is to manage the economy in a manner that helps to improve the financial circumstances of citizens, doesn't it stand to reason that if responsible liberal Democratic women and minorities are elected, they will use the power entrusted to them to help women and minorities succeed economically?  

Why would we choose to believe the opposite:  that white men, (who are competing with women and minorities for resources and advantages) will use the power of elective office to help people who are NOT of their demographic group?  Everything in America's history and its present circumstances - with white men in power - suggests that the opposite is true.  The longer white men are the majority of the US Senate, the US House and have a lock on the Presidency, while controlling the apparatus of the power of the 50 states, the longer women and minorities will lack the political power to lift themselves out of poverty.

I think that, for the purposes of our discussion today, it is essential that we limit ourselves to testing John Edwards' premise, that electing him is the best way to lift women and Blacks out of poverty, better than electing a liberal Democratic woman or Black person. That  question is sufficiently complex that it is worth spending at least one day considering it, by itself, before going into the voting booth.

How, specifically, is electing John Edwards going to reduce the poverty of women and minorities.  I think this is a fair question to ask?

As a threshold issue, it seems necessary to remind readers that any discussion of whom our 2008 presidential nominee will be should necessarily be limited to a discussion of the Democrats.  Whenever I assert that electing a woman or minority president will help American in one way or anther, someone urgentlydemands to know whether electing a REPUBLICAN woman or minority would help America.  That is a specious, in my mind, question since the premise of all of our activities is that electing Democrats is better.  Moreover, since there are Democratic women and minorities running for president, it is hardly necessary to speculate about the effect of electing a Republican candidate.

Responding to the proposal to elect a woman by asking whether a Republican woman would suffice is like responding to the same proposal by asking whether a child-molesting cannibalistic ex-convict schizophrenic woman would suffice.  How is that relevant to the question of whether, as between two elected and respected liberal Democratic officials, the election of a woman or minority will help America to progress?  Certainly, raising the specter of electing a woman or Black Republican is an unhelpful and superficial debating technique with no relevance whatever to the discussion at hand.  

And yet this technique is often used by "progressives" to derail urgent discussions of whether increased numbers of women and minorities in government will significantly change the nature of American society.   The technique only serves, if tolerated, to perpetuate the status quo, the control of America's government by white men.

And so I pose the urgent question:  In light of the high correlation between historical patterns of political disenfranchisement and poverty for America's women and minorities, with white men in power, how do we know that electing  electing John Edwards as president is the best way to lift politically disenfranchised women and minorities out of poverty?    

To me, the premise is counter-intuitive, lacks empirical support, is not based on an historical or sociological appreciation of the direct causal relationship between the feminization and colorization of political powerlessness and the feminization and colorization of poverty.

Author's note: I have designed the graphics here to represent my own interpretation of the political and economic facts involved, and so I have paraphrased, in my own way, what I believe to be the thrust of the arguments involved. I suspect that many people will disagree with these representations, but the purpose of these graphics is to challenge assumptions and encourage us to clarify our thinking about our underlying premises.

Tags: black, Economy, John Edwards, latino, men, Poverty, racism, sexism, WHITE, Women (all tags)

Comments

63 Comments

Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and
I'm not convinced of the basic premise of your argument--which I take to be that electing a politician from an under-represented socioeconomic consituency will automatically lead to betterment for that constituency. That said, I think it's an important issue you're raising so I'm going to recommend this diary in hopes that it will start some discussion. I personally feel that Edwards should be commended for his focus on poverty/Katrina/etc. It's an issue that's all too often ignored in American politics. However, I think you may have touched upon a large part of the reason some of my family and friends feel Edwards is lacking in sincerity (not a feeling I share, by the way).
by gabr1el 2007-02-20 04:48PM | 0 recs
Thanks for recommending having this discussion.n/t

by francislholland 2007-02-20 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

I share your openness to want to discuss issues of race and power in our country, but the sort of trash logic used to frame the discussion here does a serious and detrimental disservice to the topic.  This diary is not worth recommending.

by bedobe 2007-02-20 05:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and
Why? As I said above, I don't agree with the central premise of the eassy, but I don't see anyone else talking about 'political poverty' and its relation to economic issues.
by gabr1el 2007-02-20 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

After reading your comment below I think that you would do a far better job of discussing this topic than what this diarist has done.  

by bedobe 2007-02-20 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

'The Edwards Principle'? Are you kidding me?

And over the years, we've continued to make progress towards equality with white men in power (usually Democrats). Yes, we're not there yet, but we've been working on it. To insinuate that not electing Clinton or Obama (which are the two candidates you've been shilling for in an intellectually dishonest fashion for a long time) will continue to 'perpetuate' a historical trend which is moving towards what you claim to support is complete and utter bullshit.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 05:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

The historical trend is "never electing a President who is not a white man".  Electing another white male president will, indeed, continue the historical trend of never electing a president who is not a white man.

I think that is why the media is asking, "Are we ready for a woman?" and "Are we ready for a minority?"

by francislholland 2007-02-20 05:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

I am not going to base my vote solely on that fact alone. I'm going to vote for the candidate who is best on the issues. Par example, I am supporting Obama right now, but not because he's black. I'm supporting him because of his policy beliefs and the incredible source of inspiration he is to the generation coming of age.

By your logic, we should've been hopping on the Liddy Dole bandwagon in 2000. What a joke. If the candidate I believe will do the best job is black, white, Latino, Asian, Martian, whatever - I'll support them.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

Either you didn't read my diary or you are intentionally misrepresenting what I said.  I said above, in this diary,

As a threshold issue, it seems necessary to remind readers that any discussion of whom our 2008 presidential nominee will be should necessarily be limited to a discussion of the Democrats.  Whenever I assert that electing a woman or minority president will help American in one way or anther, someone urgentlydemands to know whether electing a REPUBLICAN woman or minority would help America.  That is a specious, in my mind, question since the premise of all of our activities is that electing Democrats is better.  Moreover, since there are Democratic women and minorities running for president, it is hardly necessary to speculate about the effect of electing a Republican candidate.

Responding to the proposal to elect a woman by asking whether a Republican woman would suffice is like responding to the same proposal by asking whether a child-molesting cannibalistic ex-convict schizophrenic woman would suffice.  How is that relevant to the question of whether, as between two elected and respected liberal Democratic officials, the election of a woman or minority will help America to progress?  Certainly, raising the specter of electing a woman or Black Republican is an unhelpful and superficial debating technique with no relevance whatever to the discussion at hand.  

And yet this technique is often used by "progressives" to derail urgent discussions of whether increased numbers of women and minorities in government will significantly change the nature of American society.   The technique only serves, if tolerated, to perpetuate the status quo, the control of America's government by white men.

Why do you insist on comparing white male candidates to hypothetical Republican women and minority candidates instead of comparing him to actual liberal Democratic women and minorities?  I guess the answer is self-evident.

But, the question that presents itself for 2008 is not hypothetical at all:  Will electing THIS white man do more to end poverty than electing THESE women and minorities?  Why not just answer this question instead of inventing another one that is purely hypothetical?

by francislholland 2007-02-20 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

Sorry, that doesn't fly. You try to absolve yourself from answering the question because you don't have a logical answer.

You don't get to set the terms of the debate by openly stating you won't answer such questions. And I'll put it forward again - does your philosophy mean you supported Liddy Dole in 2000? She did run for the GOP nomination, after all.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and


But, the question that presents itself for 2008 is not hypothetical at all:  Will electing THIS white man do more to end poverty than electing THESE women and minorities?

Yes, because Edwards believes in a universal health care plan that does not place an undue burden on the individual.

Yes, because Edwards believes in free college tuition for students that work 10 hours a week.

Yes, because Edwards believes in ensuring labor and environmental standards for trade agreements that otherwise result in more and more blue collar jobs (disproportionaltely performed by minorities) going overseas.

Yes, because Edwards believes in not only in the power of unions, but in their necessity in order to lift women and minorities out of poverty. He does not just pay lip service to them as HRC and Obama do. He works on the frontline with them. Especially with hotel/restaurant/and janitorial workers that are overwhelmingly made up of minorities and women.

Obama and HRC do none of this, support none of this, and will do none of these things as president. Therefore, because Edwards addresses forecefully and comprehensivley the 3 major issues affecting women and minorities, jobs, health care, and education, he will do more to end poverty than HRC or Obama.

by adamterando 2007-02-21 03:01AM | 0 recs
Edwards

I think that this is the best response here to his question.

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards

Maybe that;s why Francis didn;t respond.

by adamterando 2007-02-21 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

"Responding to the proposal to elect a woman by asking whether a Republican woman would suffice is like responding to the same proposal by asking whether a child-molesting cannibalistic ex-convict schizophrenic woman would suffice."

Wow- you dislike Republicans far more than I do. Heck, I voted for one in the past decade (her civil rights platform was far better than her opponents'). Even in the hypothetical of one I really dislike (let's call this person W., so as not to cast aspiration on any actual Republican), I would be very unlikely to characterize W. as child-molesting or cannibalistic (heck, the later is extremely rare in the U.S.A). On the other hand, I can think of a hypothetical W. that is a current felon, and probably is psychotic, but that's a topic for another essay.

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

I'm not saying that electing a woman or minority will "automatically" lead to anything except a goverment that closely reflects the demographics of the country, which has a female majority.  But that's not the point here.

Although giving a sandwhich to the poor does not gaurantee that hunger will decrease, giving a sandwhich to the rich is certainly not the most intuitive way to reduce hunger.

The Republicans believe in "trickle down economics" - that giving more money to the rich will ultimately put more money into the pockets of the poor.  Many progressives seems to believe in "trickle-down economics" as well - that giving more political power to demographic groups who are presently most powerful will lead to more money in the pockets of those who are least powerful.  I'm just pointing out that this is counter-intuitive and self-serving.  That doesn't mean that it isn't possible, but we need A LOT of evidence to show that something so counter-intuitive is nonetheless true.

Like the trickle-down economics of the Republicans, I can't see the evidence that giving more power to white men helps lift women and minorities (the poor) out of poverty.  It seems to me that reversing historical trends of political disenfranchisement of women and minorities is much more likely to reduce poverty.

It's not just about any one candidate, although I address John Edwards because he has made this premise the central premise of his candidacy.  The question is, "Is it possible to lift women and minorities out of ECONOMIC poverty without voting to lift women and minorities out of POLITICAL POVERTY?

by francislholland 2007-02-20 05:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and


Many progressives seems to believe in "trickle-down economics" as well - that giving more political power to demographic groups who are presently most powerful will lead to more money in the pockets of those who are least powerful.

Bullshit again. Progressives believe in supporting the best candidate there is. If those people truly believe in those principles, then those are the policies that will get passed.

By your definition, Jake Ford deserved to win the TN-09 seat instead of the person who did win it, Steve Cohen, even though Jake Ford was the ideological equivalent of his centrist brother, Harold, and not the liberal that Cohen is. Even further, by definition, we should support all women and minorities to further equality - even if they are Republicans.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 05:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and
[i]The question is, "Is it possible to lift women and minorities out of ECONOMIC poverty without voting to lift women and minorities out of POLITICAL POVERTY?[/i] Yes, I think it is possible with sound policy advocacy. All else being equal, in a hypothetical matchup I would certainly prefer a woman/minority/poor candidate to a rich/white candidate. After all, I am a democrat who believes in affirmative action. But in the real world, things like policy matter--charisma matters--and when taken as a whole, candidates are never equal. So I think the real question is [b]not[/b] whether it's possible to lift under-represented consituencies out economic poverty without addressing political poverty... certainly it's [i]possible[/i]... rather, the question is: When compared to policy, charisma and experience, how much does a candidates' own race or socioeconomic-status matter? To be honest, I'm not sure.
by gabr1el 2007-02-20 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

If you don't need political power to amass economic power, then why do corporations spend so much supporting candidates?  Aren't they seeking political influence in order to increase their earning potential?

Don't corporations want influence over government because government determines the regulatory environment and legal framework that helps or inhibits profit-making?

If this is so for corporations, and if the demographic group that has ALWAYS had most power has also ALWAYS had more money, then why would we imagine that women and minorities can amass economic wealth without a legislative environment that supports the accrual of that wealth?

If the US Governemnt had made slavery illegal a hundred years earlier, then Blacks would have earned hundreds of millions of dollars for their labor that instead went to white men.

If women and Blacks had political power earlier, then inevitably the nation's public police forces, teacher corps, and fire departments would have had women and Black members earlier, and that would have lifted more women and minorities into the middle class much sooner and much better than poverty programs have.  So, the lack of political power had led directly to the lack of economic power.

It doesn't surprise me that candidates who are part of the group that has ALWAYS had power would assert that we can end poverty without ending the white male monopoly of power.  After all, if America accepts this premise than the 30% of America that is white and male may be able to continue to have 80% of the seats in the US Senate, 100% of the presidential terms and 75%(?) of the seats in state legislatures.  So, I would be surprised if white men agreed with me when I assert that their over-representation among elected leaders disavantages other groups who are under-represented.  It is not surprising when those who are in power prefer the status quo.

by francislholland 2007-02-20 07:37PM | 0 recs
under-represented

"So, I would be surprised if white men agreed with me when I assert that their over-representation among elected leaders disavantages other groups who are under-represented."

On the contrary; I completely agree. All of my PAC contributions have been to organizations that favor people that heavily support the civil rights of an under-represented portion of the population; needless to say, most such candidates come from that segment of the population. However, the question is whether or not this single issue is my primary one for the upcoming election. I submit that it is not likely to be. Particularly for the Presidency, in this next election, Civil Rights issues (in general) are probably third on my list (typically they are second), but I expect to have my mind made up from the first two items on my list well before I look at the relative Civil Rights records.

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 07:53AM | 0 recs
The Best Way to end Poverty: End Discimination

Every time a woman or minority is discriminated against in hiring, promotion, pay or retention, this  increases the poverty of those who are most likely to be poor - women and minorities.  If you REALLY want to decrease poverty, a concrete step would be to propose strategies to assure that women and minorities receive equal pay for equal work.  

by francislholland 2007-02-21 09:28AM | 0 recs
under-represented

"So, I would be surprised if white men agreed with me when I assert that their over-representation among elected leaders disavantages other groups who are under-represented."

On the contrary; I completely agree. All of my PAC contributions have been to organizations that favor people that heavily support the civil rights of an under-represented portion of the population; needless to say, most such candidates come from that segment of the population. However, the question is whether or not this single issue is my primary one for the upcoming election. I submit that it is not likely to be. Particularly for the Presidency, in this next election, Civil Rights issues (in general) are probably third on my list (typically they are second), but I expect to have my mind made up from the first two items on my list well before I look at the relative Civil Rights records.

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

FLH: Is it possible to lift women and minorities out of ECONOMIC poverty without voting to lift women and minorities out of POLITICAL POVERTY?

gabr1el: Yes, I think it is possible with sound policy advocacy.

Well, you can turn a piece of coal into a diamond, but not in a reasonable amount of time without pressure. Pun intended.

Did the ERA pass in the 70s? It was originally introduced in 1923, LOL, and promptly buried.

You could argue that some of its goals have been achieved judicially via the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. Given that it's still a work-in-progress, consider that if Congress had reflected a proportional gender balance in 1972 (not that it does now) perhaps 35+ years of the slow crawl via judicial/political activism, with the comcomitant conservative pushback, would not be necessary.

by dblhelix 2007-02-20 11:12PM | 0 recs
OT: Diamonds

"Well, you can turn a piece of coal into a diamond, but not in a reasonable amount of time without pressure."

Actually, you can create diamonds of a reasonable size with chemical vapor deposition. Automation means that they can be created in a reasonable period of time.

Sample link:

http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cn tn_id=104182

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: OT: Diamonds

The substrate is chemistry's affirmative action policy.

by dblhelix 2007-02-21 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

Even if it were theoretically possible to end financial poverty without ending economic poverty, why would we bother to try?  What is so sacred about maintaining women's and minorities' political poverty that we should do it try to achieve that even after having acknowledged that, to at least some degree, political poverty must necessary slow efforts to address economic poverty.

I believe that if we want to address economic poverty, then we have to address the CAUSES of economic poverty, which lie in political poverty.  If we aren't willing to address the political poverty of women and minorities, then we might as well stop giving lip service to the idea of redressing economic poverty.  

by francislholland 2007-02-21 09:38AM | 0 recs
The pro-Qzering plank

"Many progressives seems to believe in 'trickle-down economics' as well - that giving more political power to demographic groups who are presently most powerful will lead to more money in the pockets of those who are least powerful."

I tend to think that 'trickle-down politics' might be a better phrase for this argument.

Personally, like a number of other commenters appear to be, I'm a believer that the issues a candidate campaigns on matter. If, for example, a candidate campaigned primarily on pro-Qzering, and pro-Qzering were my primary issue, I'd be more likely to vote for him or her. The reason is that if they are elected, then their supporters are far more likely to pressure them to preform some pro-Qzering actions if they don't start to do so soon (Qzering is, to my knowledge, a made-up word - I'm using it to try to separate the issue from the logic).

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 07:27AM | 0 recs
i can hardly believe my eyes

If nothing else, Francis, you're good for a laugh.

by clarkent 2007-02-20 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

Why would electing a woman help alleviate poverty? It's all about their policies, it shouldn't be about anything else. Edwards proposes a stepping stones job program, a college for everyone program, raising the minimum wage, UHC, etc. These are all policies to help alleviate poverty. If he is the candidate who proposes the best policy ideas which would have the greatest effect on reducing poverty, then he is the candidate that would greatly reduce poverty. So, for fun let's say Hillary gets the nod, she does nothing about NAFTA, doesn't pass a UHC plan, doesn't create a good jobs program, but just because she is a woman "political poverty" would decrease therefore reducing real poverty? There's no real sense to it, and it's not based in reality.

by Sarah Lane 2007-02-20 05:21PM | 0 recs
Clinton Grew the Economy

The Clintons presided over one of the most economically successful governments in recent times, where the economy grew and people were lifted out of poverty by the work they did.  The deficit was reduced and the budget was balanced.

Your hypothetical requires us to believe that a woman who participated in all of that will suddenly abandon it and spend her time on what?

You give credit to John Edwards who hasn't done a single thing yet, while denying all credit to the Clintons for the successful economy of the 1990's.  That's not fair and it's not going to help the Democrats win back the White House.

The first building block to winning the support of the country in 2008 will be reminding the country of the peace and prosperity we experienced between 1992 and 2000.

Bill Clinton's popularity numbers aren't stratospheric for nothing.  The longer we are without him, the more we realize how much we need him.

by francislholland 2007-02-21 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Grew the Economy

You're right, what am I talking about? Oh, yeah...NAFTA. I know Clinton did a pretty good job with the economy but I do believe that partly was because of the tech boom, which took my partner up and then way down! I have lived in the northwest for 15 years and I saw what good and bad it did to our economy, many people I know are still struggling to get back on their feet. They're also having a hard time with the fact that their old job payed 3 times as much as their tech jobs do now. I haven't heard Hillary say she'll propose a UHC plan, or reform NAFTA, or propose any real bold programs that could actually take millions out of poverty. This is about her...right? As for Edwards, he has done things that have helped people and I'm not saying Bill Clinton didn't, but what is Hillary proposing? For instance, Edwards started a college for everyone program where he helped poor high school seniors get to go to college. They had to agree to work 10 hours a week and in the school he chose 60-70% joined the program. Meaning, that over 60% took advantage of his program because otherwise they couldn't afford to go to college. I like Edwards and his policy ideas, I think they could greatly help reduce poverty. So, why don't you bring up Hillary's policy ideas to alleviate poverty, it would make your argument substantial.

by Sarah Lane 2007-02-21 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

John Edwards says that America's most urgent problem is poverty, and he proposes that we elect him President and give him 30 years to alleviate this problem.  But, most importantly for this discussion: While running for President against three liberal Democrats who are members of the target demograpic groups most affected by poverty (women, Blacks and Latinos), John Edwards has made the extraordinary and counter-intuitive assertion that electing him, a white man, is the best way to reduce the poverty of women, Blacks, and Latinos.  

Such a narrow and myopic caricature of an argument is right out a strict constructionist line of argumentation.  Only Scalia would find this sort of logic persuasive.

by bedobe 2007-02-20 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

In addition, Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton have never indicated that they would do anything for women and Latinos.  How would their presidencies practially help women and Latinos?

by jallen 2007-02-20 06:11PM | 0 recs
OT: "strict constructionist"

"strict constructionist" is a poor term, usually recently used as code for "conservative". Scalia is a textualist in terms of laws; that is, he believes that only the text of the passed law matters in determining what the law means. No Supreme Court Justice is (or has been for a long time) a textualist in reference to the Constitution. The primary reason is that doing so would strongly reduce their own power (since, for example, there is nowhere in the Constitution that states that the Courts are the determiner the Constitutionality of laws and treaties).

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: OT: "strict constructionist"

Here I'm using "strict constructionist" as code for someone that looks at issues so narrowly, in such black and white terms (i.e., "facts," not in terms of race), that their sense of the larger issues/truth is completely distorted by irrelevant and distracting details -- Scalia often resorts to this myopic tactic to defend his ideological conservative decisions.  Here the diarist is using a distracting and directly irrelevant detail, in an extremely narrow argument, to suggest that electing Edwards will hurt women and African-Americans.  This sort of nonsensical BS requires too many leaps of faith to take seriously.

by bedobe 2007-02-21 10:37AM | 0 recs
Why would you think that Clinton or Obama would

lift women and minorities any more than John Edwards.

Do you really think that the only people who can understand womens issue are women, because I don't think you are. So you shouldn't try speaking or expressing womens viewpoints if what you are trying to say is that you have to be a women to lift women up.

And therefore are you saying the only people who can understand and try and help, and lift up minorities must first be a minority?

Because I think you are wrong, totally wrong if that is what you are trying to infer.

Many who are not either a woman or a minority have helped both groups and have been for decades.

I totally disagree with your constant atempt to slice and dice John Edwards.

Here in W-TN - I sure didn't see Harold Ford Jr campaigning on the fact that his district TN-09 had the highest infant mortality rate in the country - he sure didn't bring it into the campaign and he sure didn't address it to get much done about it the 10 or so years he was my congressman.  These high infant mortality rates are in the lower income sectors and where mostly African Americans live and are directly related to youthful mothers with no health care.

As far as Clinton - I have heard her say she is not for Universal Health care. She says that the currant health care system JUST needs to be reformed.  Sounds like big time playing to the music of HMO's, Insurance companies and Pharmaceutical companies to me.

John Edwards has been the Champion of a Great Universal Health care plan.

So, Yea, I would say John Edwards could do a better job, at least he has been putting issues on the table that are forcing both Clinton and Obama to address.

by dk2 2007-02-20 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Why would you think that Clinton or Obama woul

Assuming arguendo that there is no certainty that the election of ANY of these candidates will lead to a diminuition of poverty, that certainly means that there's no reason to make John Edwards' poverty argument the center of our voting behavior.  If there's no evidence to support his contentions, then why vote for his admittedly very expensive programs and their counter-intuitive and clearly self-serving premise.

The fact is, we don't know based on past experience whether equal political representation for Blacks and women would reduce poverty, because we've never tried it.

Before women got the right to vote, there was no way to say with certainty that permitting women to vote would increase voting by women.  It was just our best hypothesis, based on all of the logic and information available.

It's a very pernicious circular reasoning that says, "Let's never do the experiment because we have no evidence of what the results will be, and we have no evidence of what the results will be because we've never conducted any experiments."

Here in W-TN - I sure didn't see Harold Ford Jr campaigning on the fact that his district TN-09 had the highest infant mortality rate in the country - he sure didn't bring it into the campaign and he sure didn't address it to get much done about it the 10 or so years he was my congressman.  These high infant mortality rates are in the lower income sectors and where mostly African Americans live and are directly related to youthful mothers with no health care.

Would whites have been MORE likely to vote for Ford if he focused MORE on an alleviating a problem that whites associate with Blacks.  I used to like Edwards a lot more, but I'm convinced that , in addition to being self-serving and counterintutively illogical, Edwards' focus on poverty is a political non-starter with most voters.  The polls are telling us that.  Even women and minorities - the proposed beneficiaries of Edwards new war on poverty - are not buying it as an electoral stragegy for Democrats or as a substantive solution for poverty.

But the question remains:  Having agreed that we need to alleviate poverty, will electing another rich white man and thereby preserving the 43-term white male monopoly of the presidency CLEARLY lead to a diminuition of poverty MORE than electing a Democratic member of the historically disenfranchised groups would?  If not, then the rationale that Edwards offers for his candidacy doesn't make sense.  

I'm not saying that there couldn't be a different and better rationale.  I'm saying that the one he has offered doesn't hold water analytically.

by francislholland 2007-02-20 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Why would you think that Clinton or Obama woul

You don't know how much any president would do to alleviate poverty until they are elected.

You don't know anything until the person actually gets elected and puts forth legislation.

Your argument makes no sense and says a whole lot of nothing.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 08:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Why would you think that Clinton or Obama woul

You don't know how much any president would do to alleviate poverty until they are elected.

This is true, and this is precisely why it makes no sense to elect a candidate whose primary campaign premise is that he will end poverty 22 years after the end of his second term in the presidency.

So John Edwards puts the last benchmark of his presidency 22 years after he receives the last paycheck of his presidency?  If only all American workers could receive such a sweetheart labor contract, where the get hired and paid to do something that will only be accomplished, if at all, 22 years after they receive their last paychecks!!

If John Edwards had proposed to decrease JOBLESSNESS by a certain among over 4 years, with clear cut ways to get there, then I would have taken his poverty proposal more seriously.  As it is, it's he wants us to sign a "purchase and sales agreement" for a house whose construction will only be complete in the year 2038.  I'd prefer to find a contractor who works a little bit faster than that, and that's not about skin-color at all.

by francislholland 2007-02-21 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Why would you think that Clinton or Obama woul

"Even women and minorities - the proposed beneficiaries of Edwards new war on poverty - are not buying it as an electoral stragegy for Democrats or as a substantive solution for poverty."

You have no way of knowing this.  You are just making assumptions.  From his favorables, I'd assume that they like him, he just isn't their first choice.

"Having agreed that we need to alleviate poverty, will electing another rich white man and thereby preserving the 43-term white male monopoly of the presidency CLEARLY lead to a diminuition of poverty MORE than electing a Democratic member of the historically disenfranchised groups would"

John Edwards may be rich now, but he came from a humble background.  Are you saying that poor and working class whites are not, nor have ever been disenfranchised and separate from the white elites?  Or are you assuming that because he became rich, he forgot where he came from?

by jallen 2007-02-20 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards

I know that John Edwards has made fighting poverty a central theme of his campaign, but just from reading his issues page I still don't understand what he can offer that other candidates are not promising. Everyone seems to be talking about UHC so that's not unique anymore. Everyone wants to reform the current education system and make college more affordable. Most of his ideas require Congressional support - will that happen? May be someone can help me understand his proposals better.

by PhillyGuy 2007-02-20 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards

about health care, Edwards has at least done what others have not yet done, which is present a plan that has a real chance of not only working but also getting passed:

http://johnedwards.com/about/issues/heal th-care-overview.pdf

I don't belive he has laid out concrete proposals with funding details on education yet. The best way to learn more about him is not the issue pages on his website which havent been updated ina while, but check out some of his speeches and videos and I think you'll have a better idea.

by okamichan13 2007-02-20 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards

His college for everyone program he started in rural N.C. funded college for students who couldn't afford it and agreed to work 10 hours a week. The school he chose, over 60% of the students joined his program, meaning that they all could not afford to go to college without the assistance. He raised over 350,000 for these high school kids. He also is proposing a stepping stones jobs program, where 1 million people each year will be eligible. If you're unemployed you can enter the program for one year, and you will be placed in a city or parks job. This way, people will have a chance to get themselves on their feet. I believe this program could really help end the circle of poverty for many families. These are just two programs he's proposing, there are many more.

by Sarah Lane 2007-02-21 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

Please ask any one in England how much Margaret Thatcher did to raise women out of poverty and give more representative power to women and minorities in British government.

Unfortunately, she privatized the lifeblood out of the working class and poor by selling off publicly owned government companies to individuals with deep pockets.

Your logic is deeply flawed, if entertaining.  Leave it to us liberals to talk ourselves into theoretical, academic, politically correct quagmires.

by melg 2007-02-20 07:19PM | 0 recs
Clinton is no Margaret Thatcher! n/t

by dk2 2007-02-21 03:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton is no Margaret Thatcher! n/t
Exactly.  Agreed.
And John Edwards is not just any old racist, chauvinist, good ol' boy "white man".  
I was simply extending the logic of the writer's post.
by melg 2007-02-21 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards

Francis, you seem to be going with an anti-white man theory lately.  And it's not working.

Edwards may be rich, but he didn't come from a rich background

by v2aggie2 2007-02-20 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards

If you read his bullshit at Daily Kos before he came here, this is nothing new. The man is a one-man rabid lamb squad.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 07:53PM | 0 recs
You have a right to your opinion.

And I have a right to mine.  But neither you nor anyone else in this thread has cited a single bit of evidence that electing John Edwards would lead to a diminuition of poverty, or that electing John Edwards would lead to a greater diminuition of poverty than electing a member of one of the groups that has been historically shut out of power.

I think I know what you would like PsiFighter37.  I suspect that you would like to convince others here at MyDD that I should be banned, because that would leave your premises unchallenged.  If my ideas are so patently ridiculous and illogical, then nobody will pay any attention to them, right?  

It's only if they are logical and compelling that they pose any risk to your ideas.  So, having concluded that my ideas are without merit, why don't you try and respect your fellows enough to believe that they will come to the same conclusion?  People who need to use censorship in the effort to win the war of ideas are acting from a position of weakness.

George Bush wants to shut down all of the opposition radio stations in Iraq in the vain hopes that the Bush Administration view will prevail, but only if all other views are successfully silenced.  I think you know that doesn't work.  It didn't work in South Africa, and it's not going to work in the United States.

If you think I'm wrong about this diary, you can write a diary explaining to us with some specificity how electing America's 44th white male president is going to improve the status of American's women and its minorities.  That's the question I posed here.

by francislholland 2007-02-20 08:14PM | 0 recs
Re: You have a right to your opinion.

Do I really need to write a diary explaining that electing any one of the Democratic candidates (with the exception of Joe Biden, perhaps) for president, whether they be white, black, male, or female, will improve the condition of women and minorities? The fact that you're posing that question suggests that you don't have a good grip on what exactly the Democratic Party and all of its members, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality, believe in.

And yes, I do think you should be banned. Your posting here doesn't add any legitimacy to this website. You went after Al Gore in a vicious manner at Daily Kos, and this diary would appear to foment a similar, intellectually dishonest attack towards John Edwards. You have no credibility, especially when you blatantly disregard facts in favor of whatever reality you believe in.

by PsiFighter37 2007-02-20 08:21PM | 0 recs
Women and Minorities out of Poverty?

Looks like more of the same

by okamichan13 2007-02-20 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards

This is painfully dumb pseudo-intellectual drivel.

Ow, the dumb hurts...  

I am definately voting for Edwards.

by TexasLawyer 2007-02-20 08:22PM | 0 recs
Francis Holland, you slay me!

Your beloved Hillary Clinton is out there reinforcing right-wing frames about Democrats not going after the terrorists, but you bravely soldier on with your nonsensical advocacy of her candidacy.

According to your theory, Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court is automatically going to be better for black people than William Brennan. Give me a break.

Analyze Edwards' policies or at least his rhetoric--don't just assume that all white males would be the same kind of president.

by desmoinesdem 2007-02-20 09:12PM | 0 recs
According to your theory, we have to elect Newt

Gingrich, because we can't discriminate against white men.  (No that is an absurd way to characterize your theory, just as it is absurd for you to claim that my advocacy for Hillary Clinton requires that Democrats vote for Ann Coulter.)

That's like saying that if I ask you to eat at Burger King, I'm REQUIRING you to eat at Dunkin Donuts.  No, Burger King ads really are for Burger King and my essays in support of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama really are for these candidates, and not for Ann Coulter and New Gingrich.  :)

by francislholland 2007-02-21 05:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Would Electing John Edwards Lift Women and

I suppose we don't actually know if John Edwards would be able to do anything fight poverty in this country, but the same can be said about Hillary, Obama, Richardson, Clark, and on and on into infinity. We just don't know what these guys are going to do until they're actually sitting in the chair, y'know?

However, if you're saying that Edwards can't, won't, or is less likely to fight poverty because he is a wealthy, white male...well then I have to ask what FDR was up to all those years he spent in the White HOuse.

by Colbycakes 2007-02-20 09:52PM | 0 recs
You're right. We just don't know.

Since we don't know what they candidates will do in office, there is something we CAN do with our votes and know exactly what they result will be:  We can vote to end the 43-consecutive term white male monopoly of the presidency.  If a majority of Americans vote with us, then we can achieve our objective on voting Tuesday of November 2008:  End the white male monopoly of the presidency.  That is a concrete goal with one clear benchmark and it is something that is achievable in the context of electing a liberal Democrat who opposes the continuing war in Iraq and opposes invading Iran.

Let's elect a new president in 2008!

by francislholland 2007-02-21 05:14AM | 0 recs
Electing John Edwards

Because it is not about the color of John Edwards' skin or his gender; it's about the policies he pursues as President, which will help all Americans.  To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we look at the content of John Edwards' character, not the color of his skin or his gender.  

Furthermore, African Americans and women are overrepresented in poverty and John Edwards will help adress poverty.

Sorry, Senator Clinton is too conservative and Semnator Obama too moderate.  Neither will make transformative change.  John Edwards will.  That's why I support him.

by littafi 2007-02-21 03:26AM | 0 recs
It is strange to me how those who think

they maybe champion of minority rights and lack of equality, and racial negativism, who may have experienced it themselves, sometimes promote it and engage it themselves, have no problem continuing the the samething they think they are fighting against. But, the big issue is why?

Don't they realize they are engaging in the thing they think they are trying to tell others they are wrong for doing in the first place?

by dk2 2007-02-21 03:52AM | 0 recs
When did Edwards become a Leftist?

You say that Clinton is too conservative and Obama is too moderate.  Do you mean that they are too conservative for YOUR liking or do you mean that polls tell you that America is to the left of Clinton and Obama?  What is your empirical basis and reference point for your assertion that these candidates are "too conservative"?

If they are too conservative for progressives, they might be "just right" for independents, past Reagan Democrats, gun owners, supporters of capital punishment, anti-abortion voters and values voters.  In other words, nominating someone as "moderate" as Obama might help the Democrats to retake the Presidency - something that only last occurred when a maddeningly moderate Bill Clinton took the Oval Office.

If you don't like moderation, you beef isn't with Clinton and Obama but with mainstream America.  They DO like moderation, and Clinton and Obama have their finger on the pulse of America.

OF COURSE we can nominate someone more leftward than Clinton or Obama, but can such a person win a general election?  I submit to you that, in my opinion, the obvious answer is "No", a more leftward candidate than Clinton or Obama is not going to win the support of the general electorate in 2008.

So, support for a more leftward candidate ends up being a merely symbolic vote with little or no chance of being manifested in electoral success.  I'd rather win in 2008, if you don't mind, then cast a symbolic vote for illusory progressive perfection over pragmatic Democratic victory.

by francislholland 2007-02-21 09:15AM | 0 recs
Electablity

"OF COURSE we can nominate someone more leftward than Clinton or Obama, but can such a person win a general election?"

The following site is very good for tracking the frontruners (and Bush).

http://politicalarithmetik.blogspot.com/

This is probably the best page for electability, largely because it considers a number of polls:

http://politicalarithmetik.blogspot.com/ 2007/01/pres08-national-trial-heats.html

Other than Romney and Kerry, all of them are close to any of their respective match-ups. Specially, virtually every such match-up is within the margin of error.

So, with the best evidence I can find, Edwards (or Obama, or Clinton, or Giuliani, or McCain) could win the general election.

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 09:55AM | 0 recs
White men are a minority of America

People might as well get used to the fact that there is no way that a demographic group that includes only 30% of America can continue to hold 100% of the presidential and vice presidential terms.  It didn't work in South Africa, and it's not going to work in the United States of America.

Many people said that Blacks in South Africa were too concerned about skin color when Blacks there insisted that a country that was 75% Black should have a chance to elect a Black president.  The argument I'm making here is not unlike the argument made by the African National Congress in South Africa.  There's no good reason that a group that includes 30% of the population (white males) should hold 100% of the presidency and vice presidency.

If you disagree with me fine.  They disagreed with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, too, but the logic of his position ultimately carried the day.

by francislholland 2007-02-21 05:04AM | 0 recs
Is electing a white man the only way?

We have elected white male presidents throught the last century and the status of workers has only gotten worse and worse.  Now union participation rates are at their since the beginning of the unionization movement at the beginning of the last century.

What proof can you offer me that electing a 44th white male president will help labor, and what proof can you offer me that electing one of the three current candidates WHO IS NOT A WHITE MALE will NOT help labor.

Has John Edwards ever been a member of a union?  Has he ever written or sponsored or voted for a bill to help a union that the other Democrats did not also vote for?

The best way to help the union movement is by showing that unionism helps women and minorities as much as it helps white men.  One way to do that is for unions to support Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Bill Richardson, whose demographic groups represent more union members by far than John Edwards' group does.

It is counter-intuitive to elect a wealthy white male lawyer who has never been part of a union and has never peculiarly sponsored a bill on behalf of a union while asserting that this white man's election us uniquely able to help unions like the Service Workers that are made up of Latinos and Blacks and women to a greater degree than they are made up of white men.

It is quite condescending to suggest - without any supporting information - that only a white man can solve the problems of women, union members and minorities.  

Let's face it:  EVEN a white man is not going to solve most of America's problems and so we are going to mostly muddle through as we always have.  What we CAN change definitively, once and for all, is the 43-term exclusively white male monopoly of the US presidency.  I insist that this will make America a better place and, since it has never been tried before, there is no empirical evidence to show that I am wrong.  

There is only empirical evidence to show that electing one more white man NEVER solves all of America's problems in any area - unionism or anything else.

by francislholland 2007-02-21 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Is electing a white man the only way?

"I insist that this will make America a better place and, since it has never been tried before, there is no empirical evidence to show that I am wrong."

On the other hand, one could look at other countries who have chosen to vote in their first head of state as a member of a different gender and/or race. I think that the overall picture is positive, but I can come up with individual data points which support or refute your suggestion.

by Zimbel 2007-02-21 10:05AM | 0 recs
I could name some white male failures . . .

to cast doubt on the wisdom of electing white men generally.  But the fact that Nixon's presidency ended in impeachment and Bush's is ending in conflagration obviously doesn't mean that ALL white men are incapable of honestly engaging in good government.  It means only that electing a white man is not a guarantee of good government, which is something we all knew already.

by francislholland 2007-02-21 12:11PM | 0 recs

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