John Edwards has vowed to fight for middle class and working families against corporate greed and the corporate muscle that has a “stranglehold” on our democracy. It is rhetoric that is his alone in this campaign. Edwards knows that our democratic republic has been hijacked by a powerful, moneyed elite. Before you shout ‘conspiracy theory,’ pick up a copy of “Who Rules America? Power, Politics, and Social Change” by G. William Domhoff of the University of California Santa Cruz. (Or at least investigate the author’s website: whorulesamerica.net.) If you can brave the sociological language, you’ll find a factual analysis that supports Edwards’ claim. The problem is that most Americans don’t make it past the sports or living pages of their local newspaper. Hopefully, they can venture far enough to listen to John Edwards, understand the words, and hear the passion. He speaks the truth and he is committed. That’s why The Hangover endorses John Edwards for President in the 2008 Democratic primaries.
On New Years Day in the Boston Globe, Stephen Gillon, a University of Oklahoma historian, defined Edwards’ brand of populism as emotional, not intellectual. If one looks intellectually at Edwards position, one should get emotional, as in angry and outraged. The Center for Responsive Politics (2008) reveals that 1.3 billion dollars were spent by special interests and big business funding elections in the 2006 cycle. One would have to be extremely naïve to think that that kind of money doesn’t wield power in Washington. After all, twenty bucks will still get you a good table in most restaurants—except probably the ones in which these sponsors are dining.
Barrack Obama’s desire to produce change is noble, and destined to be thwarted by that 1.3 billion dollars. He aims for a bipartisan approach to change. But with Democrats accepting 46% of the money, he’ll struggle to get his own party moving in the right direction, never mind the Republicans. In the current election, Hillary Clinton has already taken $567,950 from lobbyists and 1.7 million from health care professionals (Obama: lobbyists, $76,859; health professionals, 1.3 million//Edwards lobbyists, $18,900; health professionals, $419,000. Source: Center for Responsive Politics). The likelihood of Clinton effecting change is small, too, as she is unlikely to bite the many hands that feed her.
Edwards faces two hurdles. First, people must actually listen to his message. Somehow, they need to look beyond the end of their driveways and pay attention to how Washington works. As manufacturing jobs flee the country faster than illegal immigrants come in, one would think that Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Six-pack would have a vested interest in promoting a candidate who thinks from the ground up as opposed to the top down. And at least a few of the 46 million uninsured citizens of this country should be inclined to support the candidate who gives them the best chance to receive health care. Edward’s plan takes a multi-faceted, thoughtful approach to the problem. It shouldn’t take a great deal of analysis for these issues to resonate with voters, but based on recent Presidential elections, apparently it takes more than some people are willing to give. If only critical thinking skills were a requirement for citizenship.
Secondly, Edwards will soon face marginalization from the press. It happened to Jerry Brown in 1992, who despite winning primaries in six states and earning enough delegates to carry on to the national convention, rated barely a mention on the nightly network news. The establishment does not like populism, as it is a threat to the status quo of doing business. Here comes the conspiracy theory again, you say. Not so fast. The day after finishing second in the Iowa Caucuses (gaining two less delegates than Obama, one less than Clinton), the New York Times stated that Edwards, “remained largely overshadowed by his better-financed and better-organized rivals.” While he may be overshadowed regarding print columns and air time, and by having a third less money to spend than his two main opponents, he was not overshadowed in the voting booth. Which is it that counts in this country?
For Edwards to win, middle class and working people will have to hear the not-the-usual message, give it some thought, and perhaps march in a direction opposite that which the news media will shepherd them. It is a great challenge for both candidate and citizen. John Edwards alone cannot give the American people back their government. They must join his cause and take it. This will require ordinary citizens to act and a nearly superhuman effort by the candidate. But John Edwards is ready to fight. I’m hoping he’s the werewolf Zevon saw drinking Pina Coladas at Trader Vic’s, and that election night is a full moon.