Why John Edwards
by Team Edwards, Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 12:54:15 PM EDT
My name is Michael Conrad. I am a General Director with Team Edwards, a coalition of supporters working together to nominate and elect John Edwards. I am writing this for two reasons. One is to introduce Team Edwards to other supporters of John Edwards. The second, and far more important reason, is to lay out a few reasons for supporting John Edwards that I feel have been overlooked. There many reasons to support John Edwards. Instead of listing all of them here I think it would be best if I did this in a series. Consider this the first part.
For the first time in a long time the Democrat who best represents our values is also the most electable. That is just one of the reasons why I feel it is so important for the progressive movement to come together and support John Edwards' campaign. This diary would be far too long if I went into detail about all the reasons to support John Edwards, but after the jump I'll list some of the things he has done that make it clear that he is the bold progressive leader that both our party and our country desperately needs. If you dispute the point that John Edwards is the most electable Democrat I would like for you to check out the latest post on our blog. If you are already a John Edwards supporter you will be able to find information that will help you when engaging fellow Democrats about supporting John Edwards.
So why John Edwards?
Like I said before, he is the Democrat who best represents our values and is also the most electable Democrat in the race. For far too long we have had to weigh our desire to see our convictions represented in our candidate against our need to win. Finally we can throw that scale away.
John Edwards is the best communicator of progressive values. He does not need to tear down the party in a pathetic attempt to build himself up. Whether by enforcing myths about fighting terrorism, taxes, or trade, every other major Democratic candidate (Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and Governor Richardson) have at one time in this campaign thrown the party under a bus when it suited the image that they wanted to project. When John Edwards criticizes our party he focuses on the need for our party to have more backbone and political courage. And he often does it to the face of Democratic leaders. The moment I knew that this was the campaign that I and many other progressive populists had been waiting for was when John Edwards told the DNC that now is the time to stop trying to reinvent the Democratic Party, now is the time to reclaim the Democratic Party.
At both of the recent debates it was clear to me that John Edwards is the best communicator in our party. I am obviously biased, but I am confident that if you watch the recent debate when it is replayed tonight on CNN you will see exactly what I am talking about.
We need to remember that the ability to communicate effectively is what gets people elected. I am clearly not a Ronald Reagan fan. He did terrible things to this country as well as others and shrugged it all of by stuffing his face with jelly beans. But he was able to communicate. And that is why, not some conservative fantasy that the country loved his policies, he won two elections by wide margins. Bill Clinton is a very effective communicator. While I am glad that President Clinton was in the oval office instead of a Republican I think that he squandered an opportunity to be a truly great president instead of just a good president. NAFTA, Ricky Ray Rector, his support for the huge amounts of money wasted on "Missile Defense", and his failure to act with regards to Rwanda are my reasons for not being the biggest fan on President Clinton. But, he was a very effective communicator and for this reason was, and still is, a very popular president.
Immediately after he learned that President Bush had won re-election Clinton was quoted as saying that Democrats need to remember to speak to people who are concerned about social issues. Personally, I believe that national security concerns (another issue that John Edwards has recently showed bold leadership on) was the main reason why Bush was re-elected. But Clinton is right about the need to speak to people who are concerned about these issues. Clinton also was right to point out that we should not change our positions on these issues, but we do need to address them. And no one speaks with more candor about social issues than John Edwards.
I would like to wrap up this diary by pointing out the need for a nominee who puts political courage ahead of political calculation. John Edwards has also run a very bold campaign and displayed the type of political courage that will be needed when a Democratic president attempts to make the end of the War in Iraq, Universal Health Care, Energy Independence, or any of the other things that are being focused on in the primaries a reality.
John Edwards' recent confrontation of the Bush doctrine of a "War on Terror" is a great example of this. Confronting one of the most widely used and effective political frames in recent memory was not an easy task but it was something that someone, for the long-term well being of both our party and our country, needed to do. What makes this decision even more important is how it was made. Edwards had a few seconds at the most to decide whether to raise his hand when the question about a "war on terror" was asked. Not only was he the only major candidate not to raise his hand, he did not stop there.
He showed progressive Democrats why engaging conservative myths is important, that it is possible, and how it can be done. Every counter-terrorism/national security expert that I have seen speak (usually on C-Span's "Book TV") has made it clear that the Bush administration has made us less safe, increased the number of terrorists, and fueled their hatred for us. As Edwards himself pointed out, we need to give those on the fence (and there are many) a hand to our side, not a shove to the other. Edwards confronted this conservative myth publicly and vigorously and he offered a substantive alternative to the Bush doctrine.
There are many other examples of John Edwards displaying the bold leadership that we are looking for, and that is what I would like to end with. I like to call it the "John Edwards First and Often Only" List. It is a list of times that during the course of this campaign John Edwards was the first, and often only, candidate to do something of importance. This list was first posted on our blog on Monday April 2nd. Soon after it became very hard to keep track of all of the examples of Edwards demonstrating leadership during this campaign so this list has not been updated as often as we would have liked, but I think it gets the point across.
Before I go I wanted to ask something. Is there anyone else who would like to see John Edwards debate Rudy Giuliani on Iraq/Foreign Policy in General /National Security/Terrorism? Personally, I think that the only problem is how the media would spin it. I truly believe that Rudy is overplaying the fear mongering/invoking 9/11/claiming that anyone who disagrees with him thinks that we deserved to be attacked on 9/11 card. If you want to get an idea for what the debate would look like compare Edwards' answers at the debate on Iraq/Foreign Policy questions to Giuliani's answers on the same topics. Anyway, it's just an idea, but I would appreciate any input.
Anyone who would like to be involved in Team Edwards can find my contact information on our blog.
The "John Edwards First and Often Only" List
1st candidate to respond to DFA (Democracy For America) with a clear position / plan for ending the war in Iraq.
Note: Recently DFA asked the presidential candidates to respond with a clear, detailed plan for environmental action (on issues like energy independence and global warming) and once again John Edwards was the first candidate to respond.
1st and only of the "big 3" candidates to publicly support the 2006 Kerry - Feingold amendment to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq (both Obama and Clinton voted against it).
1st and only of the "big 3" candidates to support cutting off funding for the escalation of the war in Iraq (both Obama and Clinton stopped short).
1st and only of the "big 3" candidates to make it clear from the outset where he stood on the recent Senate vote on the War in Iraq. Edwards made it clear from the start that he opposed any bill without timetables. Meanwhile Senators Obama and Clinton did not indicate which way they were going to vote and engaged each other in a game of "chicken" (a term Senator Obama should be familiar with) instead of showing leadership. In the end they were among the last to vote. Senator Obama voted first and the Senator Clinton, in typical fashion, followed. At the debate Senator Obama claimed that Edwards was 4 years late to show leadership on the issue. In reality, since late 2005, Edwards has been demonstrating leadership on the issue of ending the war. On three of the most important Iraq related issues, Kerry-Feingold, cutting of funds for the surge, and the recent vote in the Senate, John Edwards showed leadership while Senator Obama played it safe, even though his early opposition to the war gave him the moral authority to lead.
1st major candidate to support Jim Webb's Iran legislation.
1st major candidate to endorse and campaign for Ned Lamont against Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate race. Edwards was also the 1st candidate to call for Lieberman to drop out of the race. Edwards said that because Lieberman had just run in the Democratic primary and lost to Lamont, he should honor the result of the primary. Edwards was neutral during the primary, unlike Obama and Clinton who supported Lieberman.
1st and only major candidate to spend no money on polling in the first quarter of 2007.
1st candidate to release a substantive, truly Universal Health Care plan.
1st candidate to release a comprehensive plan for Energy Independence / to combat Global Warming.
1st and only candidate to release a plan for Rural Recovery.
1st candidate to lay out a specific and detailed National Security doctrine - Smart Power. He is also the first and only candidate to release a comprehensive plan specifically to fight terrorism.
1st candidate to say no to debate on / legitimizing FOX News. Not once but twice. Both times FOX news was scheduled to host a Democratic debate John Edwards was the first candidate to say no, and the only one to make it clear that he did so because FOX News is bias and he did not want to legitimize a Republican spin machine.
1st candidate to call for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.
1st candidate to call for the resignation of Paul Wolfowitz.
1st candidate to accept the offer from the SEIU to work a union job for a day. He is also the only candidate to actually work the job a union worker. The other candidates gave an interview to union workers.
1st and only candidate to mention the passing of the late great Molly Ivins during his speech to the DNC's Winter Meeting. You cannot knock the other candidates for not mentioning her. They stick so closely to their prepared remarks and just because they didn't mention her doesn't mean that they don't respect her. But in brining attention to her passing John Edwards displayed an important respect for powerful progressive voices.
1st and only major candidate who was no support on K Street and is doing nothing to change that. Edwards is not accepting lobbyist money while other candidates, like Senator Obama, pledge to take no lobbyist money but their finance team contacts the spouses of lobbyists and urge them to give money to the campaign.