On the eve of Super Tuesday, there is one notable figure that is absent on the Democratic Ticket: John Edwards. To the dismay of some and to the delight of others, John Edwards recently dropped out of the Presidential Race. Edwards also ran in 2004 and was placed on the ticket with John Kerry who together, was narrowly beaten by George Bush and Dick Cheney that year. John Edwards did, during his run, attract a wide array of people who, never before, were interested in politics.
There are many who believe that politicians who will only say what they believe will get them elected. John Edwards has been one of the few candidates who says what he believes and when he feels that he was on the wrong side of history, is quick to apologize for that vote. Some pundits would call that pandering but those who know John Edwards and those who have voted for him in the past and were planning on doing it again in the future, know the reality of the situation to be otherwise.
It would then behoove those who find the democratic process in America fascinating and an example of the greatest example of representative democracy in the world, to explore one of the most successful candidates in modern American political history, who never became president but who had the voice of millions of Americans. John Edwards was born on June 10, 1953 in South Carolina. Upon entering college at Clemson University, Edwards was the first in his family to enroll in college. Edwards made the most of his time in college where he graduated with high honors and left Clemson with a degree in textile technology.
It was also at this time where Edwards met and married Elizabeth Anania and together, had four children. Edwards has always had a close bond with his family and through his wife, Elizabeth, has found the strength to begin a life as a politician. Elizabeth Edwards, upon revealing that her cancer has come back and is indeed terminal, has become an inspiration to millions who admire her courage and/or have cancer themselves or have been affected by the deadly disease. They have not kept their struggle private but have instead voiced their experiences with the rest of the country.
Focusing on Edwards’ career in the public forum: It first began in 1978 when Edwards became a lawyer at the law office of Dearborn & Ewing. It soon became obvious that Edwards had a real talent for the law profession and soon was winning some of the highest settlements for his clients in North Carolina History which totaled more than $70 million. The most notable case occurred in 1997 when Edwards took the case of a family whose young daughter had been disemboweled by a pool company who failed, after being warned of the dangers, of placing protective covers on the highly powerful suctions which are used to keep the pool water clean.
The family was awarded a $25 million settlement. (Pear, 2008 pg. 18) Edwards, the family said, was selected to be their lawyer, because he had accepted less than the standard 33% legal fee of the judgment if the family lost the case or the settlement was small. The case served as a stepping stone for Edwards as it eventually prompted him to seek political office. Edwards won election to the U. S. Senate in 1998 as a Democrat in a state that was once known as a strong hold for the Republican Party.
Edwards helped to break that mold and would remain a senator from 1998 until 2005 when he would eventually vacate his seat to seek the presidential nomination from his party. During his time in the Senate, Edwards sponsored 203 bills. (Krugman, 2008 pg. 6) It was here that Edwards’ voting record was established and his beliefs on some of the most pressing and important issues of the day, were set in motion. Due to the fact that John Edwards dropped out of the race before “Super Tuesday” he does not have campaign headquarters in Illinois. The main site of his campaign headquarters was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
During his campaign, his main form of advertisement was divided between radio ads, television ads and on the internet. With regard to the Internet, ads were placed on his own personal website: www. johnedwards. com, online ads could also be found on websites such as www. myspace. com and www. youtube. com as well as with what has become known as “blogs” or online editorials from both his staff, supporters and those within the general community who supported John Edwards and believed that he would be the best choice for the country’s next president.
All of the above mentioned were concentrated on the mediums that people that lived in the primary states, were going to see it as it would have been fiscally unwise to advertise in Washington State, when any candidate first needed to have a favorable showing in the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary for example. One of the most important issues facing America today, and which is brought up in every campaign and promises to remain a controversial issue, is the war in Iraq. Edwards, like Hillary Clinton, voted for the Iraq War Resolution, only to reverse their opinions.
Edwards stated in October 2002, after 9/11 and before the war in Iraq began: “Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts: that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a menace; that he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons; that he has supported terrorists; that he is a grave threat to the region, to vital allies like Israel, and to the United States; and that he is thwarting the will of the international community and undermining the United Nations’ credibility. ” (Washington Post, 2008 pg. )
Two years later, Edwards defended his vote by stating: “I would have voted for the resolution knowing what I know today, because it was the right thing to do to give the president the authority to confront Saddam Hussein… I think Saddam Hussein was a very serious threat. I stand by that, and that’s why [John Kerry and I] stand behind our vote on the resolution. ” (Washington Post, 2008 pg. 2) It has been an issue that he later apologized as he officially changed` his mind on the issue. This has been viewed as weakness and pandering to some but has shown the human side of Edwards and humility.
Many voters today are stating that the economy, to them, is the most important issue. This is understandable as many economists believe that a recession is coming, if she is not already here. Edwards advocated the rolling back of President Bush’s tax cuts which the Democrats perceived to be economic measures that are used only to benefit the rich. However, Edwards was in support of the President’s recent stimulus package which involves over $150 billion in rebate checks. The belief being that people will quickly place the money back into the economy which as an s results will help to avoid a further downward spiral of the economy.
However, Edwards has differed from the president in the fact that he has called for the stimulus package to include rebates for the unemployed and uninsured; a wider range of individuals and people who, Edwards believes, deserves a larger share of the economic stimulus rebates. In the area of health care, Edwards has advocated that America follow the lead of Europe through the socialization of medicine. Edwards stated: “One of the reasons that I want to be President of the United States, is to make sure that every woman and every person in America, gets the same kind of things we have.
John Edwards was commenting on this in reaction to the news that his wife’s cancer has come back with a redoubled vigor. Others who do not have the same financial abilities as the affluent Edwards family, can expect far inferior treatment. John Edwards seeks to change this. However, Edwards is careful to advocate universal health care and wants to show the difference between universal health care which most Americans want as opposed to socialism, which most people do not want. John Edwards has pledged to raise taxes $200 billion in order to pay for the program.
Such sentiments raise a great deal of fear with those who believe in capitalism; the economic and social system that has given so much to America. If the aforementioned scare tactic were true, then one might have a credible reason for their objection. “There would be free choice of health care providers under a single payer universal health care system, unlike our current managed care system in which people are forced to see providers on the insurer’s panel to obtain medical benefits.
Also, in regard to governmental involvement in universal health care, such fears are without merit. Taxes, fees and benefits would be decided by the insurer which would be under the control of a diverse board representing consumers, providers, business and government… ‘The system would be run by a public trust, not the government. ” (Krugman, 2008 pg. 3) John Edwards, like most Democrats, were critical of President Bush’s 2002 No Child Left Behind Act from its inception. Edwards agreed that the public school system is in deep trouble but states that NCLB does not go far enough “They didn’t fund the mandates that they put on the schools all over this country.
That’s one of the reasons 800 teachers have been laid off in Cleveland. 1/3 of our public schools are failing under the Bush administration. Half of African-Americans are dropping out of high school. Half of Hispanic-American is dropping out of high school. We have a clear plan to improve our public schools that starts with getting our best teachers into the schools where we need them the most by creating incentives for them to go there. ” (Washington Post, 2008 pg. 7) Increased funding and a greater concentration on the reasons why students are failing instead of relying mostly on tests.
That has been the emphasis of John Edwards’ view on education. John Edwards voted for the Patriot Act and had been rather hawkish at first, in Democratic terms, about the defense of the nation in this post 9/11 world. Edwards has been instrumental in the passage of The Biological and Chemical Weapons Preparedness Act. The bill, introduced by John Edwards with Chuck Hagel (`R-NE`), establishes a coordinated national plan for responding to biological and chemical weapons attacks and directs states to develop plans for dealing with such attacks.
Edwards has also been hailed as a friend of the environment who has pushed for a greater government role in pursuing the reduction of emissions from some of the country’s biggest factories. The League of Conversation Voters has stated about Edwards: “An excellent choice that sends a clear message about the need for change and renewed optimism in our nation’s leadership for conservation, public health, and other issues important to the American people, “Yet another strong environmental leader [on] the Democratic presidential ticket,” (Griscom, 2008 www. rist. org) This stance has helped Edwards to gain support from a wide array of the political spectrum and has resembled the Democratic Party’s renewed interest in the environment. During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, the Edwards camp raised more than $34 million and has spent $36 on campaigning, ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. He has ranked third behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in campaigning finance and has ranked third in the polls as well.
Unfortunately, there has been for some time in American politics, a direct correlation between the amount of money raised and the votes that a particular candidate, whether Republican or Democrat can acquire. This has been the case for John Edwards who for the time being, has dropped out of the 2008 Presidential Campaign but who could emerge as a Vice Presidential Candidate as he did in 2004.