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June 01, 2005

Why Everybody Should Love John Edwards

He just had Ezra over for dinner! I had no idea that Ezra was doing that, but it's unbelievably cool. This is a brilliant move by Edwards -- not only does it bring him closer to very smart people in the blogosphere, but it enables me to post about how awesome he is and how everybody should vote for him in 2008.

Furthermore, I'm going to do it without talking about any of Edwards' substantial electability advantages. This post is entirely going to be on why an Edwards presidency would be great for America, not on why he's more likely to win the general election after winning the primary. Now, a lot of this is going to depend on the same things that Edwards' electability advantages depend on -- namely, the wonderful media profile he's built for himself and his skill as a campaigner. These things raise my hopes for passing good health care reform under Edwards, and for changing the way Americans think about morality and poverty.

I'm convinced that Edwards is the most likely person to succeed in starting to fix the health care system. I see no reason to worry about his level of policy knowledge. His current job -- setting up the Center on Work, Poverty, and Opportunity at UNC -- suggests an impressive level of seriousness about policy. Can you even imagine Bush going back to school to set up an academic center on something? As I argued here, what you need is a smart person who picks out good advisors, respects what they tell him, and has the motivation to do this stuff right.

What sets Edwards apart on this issue will be his ability to win the political battles involved in selling health care reform to America. It's no wonder that the Republicans focused so heavily on Hillary -- almost more so than Bill -- in attacking the Clinton health care plan. Hillary had the kind of background and persona that could be more effectively associated with the "socialized medicine" and "control from Washington" attacks they wanted to launch. Middle America wouldn't accept that Bubba was a socialist, but his big-city lawyer wife? That could work. To properly sell a health-care plan, we'll need someone whom most Americans regard as one of them, and who can't be easily redefined by the right-wing noise machine. It's a lot harder for me to see the "socialized medicine" criticism sticking to Edwards than to Hillary or John Kerry -- Edwards is just too similar to the target audience of that criticism. His common-man media profile and his skill as a speaker and campaigner will be essential in selling a health care reform package to America.

The things I've written above on health care could be applied more generally to effective governance overall. As evidenced by his poll numbers -- he had the highest favorables and the lowest unfavorables of all four top-ticket candidates, beginning to end -- people generally like Edwards and think he cares about them. This isn't just something you use to win elections, it's something you use to drive the Democratic agenda forward.

Now for the second topic. There's been a lot of talk -- much of it connected to the Tom Frank book -- about how people in red states are putting moral values above their economic self-interest. Appeals to voter self-interest aren't likely to solve this problem. Remember, there are a large number of Upper East Side liberals who vote against their narrow short-term economic self-interest too in being Democrats. The real solution is to make people see poverty as the moral issue that it really is.

These same considerations could be raised in an electability argument, but that's not the conclusion I aim for. I'm talking about a transformation that political discourse in America sorely needs -- one that will make people see poverty as a full-fledged moral issue. This transformation, if it's successful, will drain power away from the theocratic Right, not just in the next election, but in many elections to come. When poverty and economic adversity get identified as moral issues, as injustices worth being angry about just as the opposing position on abortion or gay rights is, people who need moral reasons in order to vote (but who may not be so excited about our social agenda) end up casting their ballots with our just crusade instead of our opponents' vicious one.

I think that John Edwards is the person to catalyze this transformation. I like how he positions the Democratic economic agenda as something that grows directly out of the most fundamental American values, values that any patriotic American ought to uphold and defend:


Do we believe in an America where the family you're born into controls your destiny? Our ancestors left a place of princes and paupers and masters and servants. This is not our America. What we believe [is that] wherever you live and whoever your family is, and whatever the color of your skin is, if you're willing to work hard, if you're willing to take responsibility, you ought to be able to go as far as your God-given talents and hard work will take you.

Making people see our economic agenda as an agenda of justice and fairness -- not just in 2008, but for a long time after -- is something that Edwards is uniquely positioned to do. It's why I see him as the best potential president in the Democratic field.

--Neil the Ethical Werewolf

June 1, 2005 in Democrats | Permalink

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Comments

I have corrected "he just invited Ezra over for dinner" to the more correct "he just had Ezra over for dinner."

Posted by: Neil the Werewolf | Jun 1, 2005 8:00:53 PM

It's a shame he was such a dreadful debater. Cheney left himself so open so many times and Edwards wouldn't call him on it. I wanted to grab him and shake some sense into him. "You're going to let THAT go by unchallenged?!!?"

I hope the bloggers explained/will explain to him that unlike in a courtroom, you don't let people say stupid things with the intention of bringing it up later when they're off the stand and can't rebut. (Presumably a good tactic there.)

Posted by: Allen K. | Jun 1, 2005 8:11:37 PM

Damn right about health care. Not sure if anyone could pull off anything on that front as soon as 08-12, but Edwards has as good a chance as anyone.

Agreed his debate performance was underwhelming, but he didn't perform poorly as much as he had a poor strategy. That can be corrected.

I'd just like to add, as part of the case for Edwards, that out of the four serious candidates in 04, the national media had the least amount of animosity toward him. This isn't a trivial matter.

Obviously, it's too soon to make the call, but I wouldn't be surprised if our two best options in 04 (Clark and Edwards) turn out to be our two best options in 08.

Posted by: djw | Jun 1, 2005 8:24:02 PM

Well, I think Edwards didn't see his job as 'beating up on Cheney'. Or even 'beating up on Bush'. Edwards was there to pump up John Kerry, and he did that pretty well.

Posted by: Neil the Werewolf | Jun 1, 2005 8:25:27 PM

Obviously, it's too soon to make the call, but I wouldn't be surprised if our two best options in 04 (Clark and Edwards) turn out to be our two best options in 08.

I wonder if Arkansas and North Carolina will be sufficient to appease the special Southern specialness demands.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 1, 2005 8:33:09 PM

It would have been nice for him to invite at least one woman blogger.

Posted by: fiat lux | Jun 1, 2005 8:37:23 PM

OH MY GOD

CAN WE PLEASE GET OFF THE WOMAN BLOGGER MEME!!!

Posted by: Kate | Jun 1, 2005 9:02:00 PM

Wait, Ezra is a *guy*? I though all names ending in a were feminine. Of course, I did think that Ira needed electrolysis pretty badly for a woman, so this makes much more sense.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 1, 2005 9:04:44 PM

Congrats to Ezra on meeting Edwards, and Elizabeth, also surely a great person to meet. But is Garance kind of poking some fun here?

Gaining the loyalty of bloggers -- which is not that hard to do if you just talk to them --

Those bloggers are just so easy. :)

Posted by: Haggai | Jun 1, 2005 10:23:40 PM

Ezra,

Oh, oobee doo
I wanna be like you
I wanna know who you do
Write like you, too
You'll see it's true
A schmuck like me
Can learn to be a political blogger too

Now don't try to kid me, mancub
There's a way to be like you
What I need is a D.C. feed
To make my dream come true
Give me the secret, mancub
Clue me what to do
Give me the power of political flower
So I can be like you. . .

Posted by: Stephen | Jun 1, 2005 11:06:14 PM

Well, I'd take him over Hillary, but I don't love him. The description of John Edwards that seemed most true was by Chris Lydon who described Edwards as "too smooth for traction in the Democratic scrabble," but Chris also thought that Dean had Kerry beat and that was two years ago. I think Edwards is kind of slick, and I don't think he's all that smart. Now if Elizabeth Edwards wanted to run, I could get behind that in a big way. Even my Republican uncle, who thought that it was oftly bossy of Kerry to tell middle-class people wo make more than $200k that their taxes would go up and who would never vote for a trial lawyer likes Elizabeth Edwards.

Posted by: Abby | Jun 1, 2005 11:25:09 PM

OT:
Why Ezra or anyone else has not been following this important story is beyond me.

Dutch Voters Reject EU Constitution

By ANTHONY DEUTSCH
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 2, 2005; 2:27 AM


THE HAGUE, Netherlands
-- European leaders may have to scrap the proposed EU constitution after Dutch voters rejected it by a massive margin, voicing their concern over dwindling national identity in a rapidly expanding union and their distrust of increasingly powerful bureaucrats.


The outcome in the Netherlands from the referendum Wednesday _ three days after a similar vote in France _ was likely to halt the European momentum, which had been welcomed by some as creating a new world power but disdained by others as smothering their cultures in a vast superstate.


With 99.8 percent of the ballots counted, unofficial results showed 61.6 percent voted "nee," while 38.4 percent said "ja." The level of opposition and the turnout of 63 percent exceeded all projections.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 2, 2005 8:45:59 AM

Edwards said something really goofy. Edwards said, "HSAs only work for millionaires." But, it is being reported that as high as 40% of HSAs had no previous health insurance. HSA insurance makes coverage affordable enough that uninsured people are getting insurance.

Also, it is being reported that 93% of doctors are afraid of being sued and order extra tests which is called defensive medicine. Doctors order every test in the world for uninsured sick people because they are even more likely to sue. John Edwards became a multi-millionaire sueing doctors. John Edwards has done more to encourage defensive medicine that any other person in America.

Maybe Ezra will share John Edwards ideas on health care with us.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | Jun 2, 2005 8:48:47 AM

Are you employed by the RNC?

Posted by: Adrock | Jun 2, 2005 12:37:32 PM

You know I think Governor Vilsack is better than John Edwards.

If I was in charge of the Republicans Tom Reynolds would be gone in 2 seconds. That guy is unethical and he doesn't care.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | Jun 2, 2005 3:11:08 PM

Are you employed by the RNC?

*THAT* must be it! How could anyone have a different opinion than yours?

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 2, 2005 3:30:00 PM

I can see both sides of the HSA debate. I'd like to have an HSA rather than a flexible savings account so I'm not playing High Stakes gambling with what I set aside. At the same time I can see companies jacking up the deductibles even worse if they know most of the employees have built up a balance in their HSA. And of course the benefit of HSA's is much clearer for middle income and higher workers than low income workers.

Posted by: DonRobbie | Jun 12, 2005 9:24:41 PM

I agree that Edwards is the right man for the right time. His call for social justice (economic and otherwise) resonates very well with even moderate republicans and especially independents. However, more than the appeal of his message, it is his message itself that captures my support. I've been listening to some of his speeches lately and reading about his work... it just so feels like he is the man to unite Americans (that middle America) again... and lead us to fix our broken system (in many areas). No one I know "hates" Edwards... (and I know a lot of staunch republicans)... that is a lot to begin with.

Posted by: king | Jun 20, 2005 7:03:17 AM

Hello. I used to be a John Edwards admire too and back then when I thought he and kerry really wanted to stop this crazy lying bush and his wars and WIN the election - I thought they would make a great team and I and wife voted for them. As lifelong democrats we were looking for a person of ethics that had the qualities to take bush out.

Midway through the campaign - when it looked like Kerry/Edwards might actually win - Kerry deliberately committed suicide by saying: "well even without the wmd's I would have invaded Iraq too!" That cooked his goose and left the grassroots dems (which also includes me)out in left field trying to find out why Kerry threw the election. We did figure it out though - that the aipac and other jewish groups didn't want Bush out - he still had (and has) much to do for PNAC and the wars Israel has been pushing - and they told Kerry - DON'T WIN - we need you to do something to make sure you give the America people the idea that they really do have a choice - but they don't - so don't win. This isn't just my theory it's all over the net. Also, if John Edwards is the man to make america whole again - what is he doing touring Russia with Jack Kemp as one of the high directors of the CFR - an organization dedicated to globalism and open borders. That's not protecting america - John Edwards and every one of those promoting the war(s) and members of the DLC and CFR - are TRAITORS - if they are in office they should be impeached and tried for HIGH TREASON, just as bush should be. Then along comes Dean - collects millions from hard working grassroots activists (based on being anti-war) - then he sells them out too and says: "we're in now - we can't get out." I'd love to debate him on that ridiculous statement. Elizabeth Edwards suggested we demand that Cindy Sheehans voice be heard and that President Bush should listen - nowhere did she way that Cindy was right about the criminal war or that the Democratic power brokers agreed with here.

There is a huge divide in the Democratic Party right now - we grassroots people are a big majority but without clout - that leaves the Joseph Lieberman traitors in charge and we have to change that - fully discredit the DLC, attempt to BAN the cfr as an unamerican organization and get back to spending money at home and not for Israels wants.

MajorHart

Posted by: John Hansen | Oct 1, 2005 12:59:25 AM

"Remember, there are a large number of Upper East Side liberals who vote against their narrow short-term economic self-interest too in being Democrats."

Is that a joke?

A large number? Like how many hundred? There's a world beyond bourgeois Manhattan. Check it out.

Posted by: Chris | Mar 9, 2006 12:23:29 AM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 16, 2007 10:53:59 PM

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