Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Three Deaths and a Campaign Announcement

If you follow U.S. politics and have anything CLOSE to my progressive commitments, you have to feel sorry for former Sen. John Edwards (D-SC). He chooses what should be the perfect setting and timing for his formal announcement as a candidate for the Democratic Nomination for President in ’08: Wanting to emphasize a campaign against poverty and for peacemaking, he chooses to announce in New Orleans–a city that symbolizes the malign neglect of the poor by the current administration and whose rebuilding has been hindered by the war in Iraq. Then he chooses the perfect timing to announce: Friday, 29 December–end of what is usually the slowest news week of the year. Brilliant.

But events just didn’t cooperate. Between the deaths and funerals of singer James Brown and former president Gerald Ford and Iraq’s execution of Saddam Hussein, Edwards’ announcement was all but drowned out. He drew good crowds in New Orleans and in his quick trips to Iowa and New Hampshire (early primary states in U.S. presidential elections), and the print media covered him well. But clips from his announcement and subsequent trips should have been played repeatedly on all the major news networks–giving him a powerful megaphone prior to the announcements of presumed Democratic “heavyweights” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). But I didn’t see ANY coverage in the networks or 24-hr cable news stations. The deaths of the famous and notorious drowned him out.

And that’s too bad. Because, although I wasn’t all that impressed with Edwards in ’04 (especially after he became John Kerry’s echo–I mean running mate), I have been very impressed since then. He was one of the first big name Democrats in the senate to renounce his vote for the the ’04 “authorization to use force” that gave a veneer of legitimacy to Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Hillary still won’t even call her vote for the same “a mistake.”

Edwards created a think-tank on poverty and he has become far more knowledgeable about foreign policy and more aggressive in defending international law, human rights, and peace. He has boldly called for universal health care (not just universal availability of insurance)–long a dream of progressives. But now that health care is the largest labor cost of business and is one of the problems of the airline and auto industries, Edwards could get support for this long overdue social safety net from both business and labor.

Edwards’ message–economic justice, ending poverty, the U.S. rejoining the international community (instead of trying to command its obedience) and reestablishing human rights and peacemaking, repealing the absurd tax giveaways to the richest at the cost of everyone else–is one that needs to be heard and should find a hearing in today’s USA. Now, if only Edwards can get that message out.

This may turn out to be an interesting primary season for the Democrats–the 2 announced candidates, Kucinich (D-OH) and Edwards (D-SC) are both more progressive than media darling Hillary Clinton. Have times begun to change from our long slide from democracy to plutocratic oligarchy? One can only hope.

December 31, 2006 - Posted by | peace, politics, poverty

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the information. As you say, it was a busy news week and I had totally missed the announcement.
    By the way, I find your blog and your friend’s at the Rose.. very intereseting, brilliant actually.
    I want to find a way to add the two of you to my humble food/life blog in such a way that you don’t get lost in all the food/craft/dogs/gardening blogs!

    Comment by anna maria | January 1, 2007

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