Editorials | April 2007
|Edwards: The True Democratic Candidate?|
Domenico Maceri - PVNN
John Edwards became wealthy with his work as a lawyer in personal injury cases fighting against insurance companies. In one case he won 25 million dollars for his client, the highest award in North Carolina history at the time. Edwards was not afraid of going after the legal eagles of corporations. It seems that he will pick up his David-vs.-Goliath role in the presidential election.
The Goliaths seem to be Hillary Clinton and to a less extent the other rising star Barack Obama. Edwards may have figured out a strategy to win the Democratic nomination by placing himself at the progressive wing of the his party.
It all began after losing the 2004 presidential election (he was John Kerry's vice-presidential candidate). Although he voted for the Iraq war when he was representing North Carolina in the U.S. Senate, Edwards has explained that given the lack of weapons of mass destruction the war was a huge mistake. Unlike George W. Bush, Edwards admitted he was wrong and told the truth.
Edwards has also taken a position that American troops need to be withdrawn with dignity and leave the Iraqis the power and the duty to make their democracy grow.
His two potential rivals for the Democratic nomination had different positions on the war although lately they have moved in the same direction.
In the primary election of 2004 Edwards tried to place himself at the center of the Democratic Party. His current move to the left is due in part to the hole created in the support of organized labor. In 2004 Dick Gephardt got the support of the unions. Now Edwards has pretty much taken over the role by wooing the unions. He’s visited local unions in Nevada which will have the primary right after Iowa and before New Hampshire. He has also joined James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, in the strike against Wal-Mart in Florida.
Edwards has also spoken about the need to raise the minimum wage and has come out in favor of universal healthcare. Edwards’ current positions represent the left wing of the Democratic Party. Some of them might not be popular with the average American voter. But for now the game is to win the nomination and off-centered positions are probably OK during the primary. After winning the nomination Edwards would in all likelihood do what every other candidate has done before him—move to the center.
Polls put Edwards at number 3 behind Hillary Clinton and Obama for the nomination but ahead of Kerry and Al Gore. Some good news for Edwards came out recently when a poll found that in a direct confrontation between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, the most likely GOP candidate, the former first lady would be defeated. This might give pause to Democratic voters as they consider nominating Hillary Clinton. In so far as the other major rival for the nomination, Edwards’ charisma would give Obama a run for his money. We must remember that it was Edwards’ oratorical skills that convinced juries to go his way in his legal battles with insurance companies.
Edwards is in some ways similar to Bill Clinton. Both have working parents, both sons of the South, with an accent that might not prevent Edwards to win some of the red states in the South.
Edwards is a self-made man who has fought against the rich using the rules set up by them.
To be elected president, Edwards will have to do the same. He’ll have to collect huge amounts of money to run a successful campaign. If early results in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire are favorable, he won’t have problems. Democratic contributors will figure out that Hilary Clinton is too risky and Obama has a number of questions marks.
Domenico Maceri, PhD, UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. He is the author of a book on Pirandello, one on Spanish grammar, and another on Italian grammar. He has also published a number of articles in newspapers and magazines around the world, some of which have won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.
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