One America

John Edwards is giving his campaign withdrawal speech, and my heart is breaking. I've known it was coming -- how could you not, after the blatant and egregious lack of coverage of his campaign at every turn -- but it's not any easier.

I feel about John Edwards as a candidate the same way I felt about Al Gore as a candidate. It's only by dint of seniority that Al Gore takes a slightly higher place in my heart -- I campaigned for him every year he ran for the Presidency since 1988 -- but I feel about them both that they were two of our best potentials for the greatest presidencies of my generation, and destined to be marked down among the truly great in our history.

I (We) have been donating to Edwards' campaign every month since the day he officially announced in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. I've argued on his behalf in discussions about presidential politics, hoping to encourage people to check out his positions, his platform, his candidacy. He was the candidate truly invested in you and me, the every day people of this country, and a passionate advocate for the poor, a very large constituency that's been shunted aside and ignored by both parties for far too long. Unions, universal health care, progressive tax policy, education assistance, retirement insurance, federal work programs...these are honest-to-god progressive, populist reforms. They are the heart and soul of what makes a democracy truly great, what prevents the power and wealth from being concentrated in the hands of the few and privileged, what fulfills the promise of the American Dream, what ensures that your children will not have a lower standard of living than you do. And John Edwards was the first candidate in over 60 years who was running on this unabashedly populist platform.

Despite his withdrawal, he accomplished something great, which was to push the two frontrunners to move to more progressive, populist policies. Obama's rhetoric on the power of the people? That came directly from Edwards. Hilary's far-reaching healthcare platform? Almost verbatim from the Edwards plan. (And Edwards had his up months before either of the other two.) When one of those two become president, you will have Edwards to thank for their promises to make povery reform a central part of their presidency. You will have Edwards to thank for any push toward more and better health coverage. You will have Edwards to thank for the change in labor policy toward unions and organizing. You will have Edwards to thank for the move toward "rewarding work, not wealth".

We are facing what I believe will be the most difficult and challenging period in our history. And the next President is going to have monumental problems to fix, gigantic messes to clean up, and a morass of troubles to calm. An economy in freefall, skyrocketing energy costs, unsustainable consumption, inadequate/nonexistent healthcare coverage, an environment in crisis, criminal government activities, horrible foreign policy, an utter boondoggle of a war...you know the list as well as I do. I believe we are on the downward slope of the American Empire. Frankly, I think that's for the best -- we have been wielding our club of power like spoiled children without a concern for whom we hit or how much damage we do. But it will take a truly great and strong President to help us navigate our way into the brave new world ahead, this difficult journey from singular world superpower to something much more humbled (and deservedly so).

We are now faced with two history-making candidates. We are blessed as a party with an abundance of possibility, for I think they can both be outstanding Presidents, leaders we can be proud of and support fully. They were not my first choice, but I'll be solidly behind whomever the nominee ends up being. And I'll hope that they'll have the wisdom and the political savvy to choose Edwards as their Vice Presidential running mate.

Because in either 4 or 8 years, I expect to be campaigning for candidate John Edwards once again.

Peace go with you, John.