Leading from the Left

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Brilliant Move by John Edwards

John Edwards is about to make it official. He's running again for the presidency! I'm glad for our country that he's decided to run again. Senator Edwards is one of those public servants who entered politics for the right reasons. He's not self-serving, he doesn't grandstand, and he works on real problems that effect the lives of real people.

The fact that he's spent the last few years working on poverty tells us everything we need to know about Senator Edwards. The divide between rich and poor has been increasing for far too long, but while other national politicians sit on the sidelines he rolls up his sleeves and tries to do something about it. Good for him.

Edwards' choice of New Orleans as the venue for his announcement is brilliant. First, it gives him a backdrop to talk about poverty, class, and race---the "Two America's."

But announcing in New Orleans does something else, something that might even be more important for Senator Edwards. It reminds us all that the presidency matters. The competency of the man or woman who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue trickles down and affects us where we live.

Katrina, and the federal incompentence at responding to the destruction in New Orleans, was the beginning of the end for the Bush administration. Personally, I think the talking heads in DC and New York mis-judged the long term impact of Katrina on our political establishment. Not only did Katrina expose the Bush adminstration's general incompentency, but she also exposed the downside of small government rhetoric being taken to the extreme.

Americans want a goverment that works; when Americans need disaster relief, they want to know that they can count on the government to be there. Bush promised a smaller goverment, but instead delivered no goverment--at least no effective goverment.

When middle America realized that Bush had mismanaged the most basic of government services, they lost faith in this president's ability to govern. And the long list of incompetencies that followed--the mismanagement of the war, a sluggish economy, high gas prices, corruption--these things were all symptons of the disease the American people diagnosed in New Orleans.

So, John Edwards' choice of announcing his candidacy in New Orleans is a brilliant strategic move. In one fell swoop, he'll remind us of America's great potential--our vision for a just society--and our great recent failure--electing a president who squanders our strengths. Could John Edwards be the person to lead us out of this mess?

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