This article appeared in the Morning Star today.
At the beginning of this month, the prosecution of former US Senator John Edwards for breaking campaign financing laws ended in a fiasco. The federal jury in North Carolina acquitted Edwards on one count and could not reach consensus on the remaining five. The judge declared a mistrial and Edwards walked free.
The case is important to progressives in America for a number of reasons — above all because of the defendant himself, John Edwards.
In 2004, Edwards ran for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, was beaten by John Kerry and then became Kerry’s running mate. In 2008, Edwards ran again, and this time was beaten out by Barack Obama.
Edwards’ 2008 campaign was an extraordinary one.
He launched his bid for the Presidency standing in the ruins of New Orleans, a city which had become a symbol of what Edwards would call “the two Americas”.
This article appears in the current issue of Solidarity.
John Edwards was once the shining hope of American progressives; today, he’s a disgraced former politician. Last week, his trial in federal court ended with an acquittal. The trial, and the public reaction to it, showed yet again a very ugly side to American politics and culture.
While it may seem ancient history to Americans, it was only four years ago that John Edwards ran for the Democratic nomination for President on a moderately social democratic platform. This put him far to the left of the two front runners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. When the health care plans of the three candidates were compared, it was obvious that only Edwards was committed to genuine reform — and Obama came in with the least ambitious plan of all.
Edwards focussed his 2008 campaign on the notion of “two Americas”, a phrase perhaps first used by James P. Cannon in his 1948 speech to the Socialist Workers Party convention.
As Cannon said at the time, “there are two Americas — and millions of the people already distinguish between them. One is the America of the imperialist … There is the other America — the America of the workers and farmers and the ‘little people’.”
American socialist writer Michael Harrington later used the phrase “the other America” as the title of his seminal book on poverty, written at a time when everyone else was talking about “the affluent society.”
Edwards probably never even heard of Cannon, but he may well have been influenced by Michael Harrington. His campaign chose to focus on the issue of poverty in America — and it resonated in the working class and on parts of the left. Unions like the United Steel Workers decided early on to throw their weight behind the Edwards candidacy.
It’s the morning after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. It now seems pretty clear to everyone that Barack Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee for President. The question now is — what can we do to ensure that he defeats John McCain in November. And not only defeats McCain, but defeats him decisively.
We need more than a Democratic victory in November — we need a landslide. We need huge Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. We can only achieve that if we have the kind of unbeatable team at the top that unites the party and the nation.
It’s obvious that Hillary Clinton is not going to be Obama’s running mate. Obama has to choose from among many outstanding Democrats, including some who ran against him in the early primaries, to find a great Vice Presidential choice. But one man stands head and shoulders above all the others as the obvious choice: John Edwards.
John Edwards set the agenda for all the candidates in the early stages of the primary battles. He came up with the first and best comprehensive health care plan. He raised the issue of poverty as no leading politician has done for 40 years. His charisma, his abilities and his appeal to those voters Obama must win in November are beyond dispute.
An Obama-Edwards ticket in November is the Democratic party’s best chance of winning a resounding victory. If you agree, please visit http://www.ericlee.info/edwards4veep and sign the form there. (That address will soon be http://www.edwards4veep.org.)
We’ll make sure that Obama gets this message loud and clear from the many Democrats who we’re sure agree with us.
A spectre is haunting American politics — the spectre of John Edwards. A week after “suspending” his campaign, the former North Carolina Senator received over 380,000 votes in super Tuesday primaries.
“I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.” – Otter, “Animal House” (1978)
I am about to propose something which is certainly futile and maybe stupid too.
I’ve been talking in recent days to people who, like me, supported the candidacy of John Edwards.
I’ve found that most of us are in a bind: we don’t really have a clear preference for one or the other Democratic candidate.
The withdrawal of John Edwards from the contest for the Democratic Presidential nomination on Wednesday has made the race suddenly less interesting. Like many other progressives, I was fascinated by the Edwards candidacy and by its promise to put radical ideas on the national agenda.
With the non-primary in Florida behind them, Democratic Presidential candidates have less than a week to prepare for what some are calling Tsunami Tuesday, when 22 states will hold primaries. A few weeks ago, the conventional wisdom was that the selection process for the Democrats would essentially end on this day with Hillary Clinton’s coronation.
Florida is the fourth largest state in the US, with 27 electoral votes and 210 delegates to the Democratic national convention. It’s where George Bush (or Al Gore) won the 2000 elections. And depending on your point of view, it either is or is not holding a Democratic primary today.
Dick Morris knows something about the way Bill and Hillary Clinton think. In 1996, he managed Clinton’s successful campaign for re-election. After having fallen from grace, he’s turned against the Clintons and is no longer close to them. Still, people pay attention to things he says. And three days before the South Carolina primary, Morris said something that made people sit up and pay attention.