For some time I had been torn in wanting to support and vote for John Edwards despite the fact that I knew he wouldn't win. He really impressed me early in the campaign in being very straightforward about his errors of the past and the honesty he came out with right away. Why Edwards? he made the strongest case and had the best plans I saw to handle two issues that are at the top of my list healthcare and dealing with poverty.
Where Hillary Clinton spent much of the early campaign defending her vote supporting the war in Iraq, Edwards straight up said that he made a mistake. I appreciate that. He also was truthful saying in order to pay for Universal Health Care we may have to raise taxes in order to do it.
Secondly, John Edwards, since Hurricane Katrina really found his voice to talk about my number one issue, dealing with poverty in this country. While he often discussed the 'Two Americas' when running for the nomination in 2004, it appears as though the country was more receptive to it after seeing the tragedy of New Orleans. It also seemed to really focus and make his arguement more real to more of the country. While he got less support in this election than in 2004, he was a better candidate this time around and the 'Two Americas' theme of his campaign carried a lot more power.
Having visited the 9th ward and other devastated areas in New Orleans, nothing I had ever seen or read about our country made me more angry at our government. Edwards was both one of the first national figures to go after this issue, but more importantly, he didn't just leave town after criticizing the government. He remained focused on the issue when he annouced his Presidential campaign in New Orleans and continued his dedication by announcing his withdrawal from the race in the 9th Ward as well. When the Presidential Debates Commission did not give a National Debates to New Orleans he raised hell and soon all the other campaigns did the same.
There's problems in pushing to be the voice of the poor when you run for office. The impoverished vote in very low numbers and can not give the money needed to finance your campaign. Despite all this, Edwards always stayed on message and even in leaving the race today his stamp on the race was felt. Both Obama and Clinton made statements to this effect and I hope they continue to do so.
John Edwards was damaged after 2004 with the fact that he lived in a mansion and had $400 haircuts. That's what happens when you run against a Karl Rove run campaign like he did in 2004. Ask John McCain, you don't bounce back right away. It took McCain 8 years to have people forget some of the awful things Rove-Bush campaign did to him and possibly Edwards running again this year was just too soon. The result is what happened; a frivolous, personal, irrelevant thing like a haircut caused people to doubt his sincerity.
Here's the truth, John Edwards has become the voice for a cause that needs many more voices like his. No matter what size house they live in, what car they drive, or how much their haircut costs, those that live in poverty, need people who care to raise awareness to their plight. I for one, hope John Edwards stays relevant, fights effectively, and keeps the issue of poverty in the US, at or near the top of our national discussion.