John Edwards' Message
John Edwards has received comparatively little media attention in his quest for the Democratic nomination. That is unfortunate, as he has a distinct chance at the nomination. In addition to being a white male (which may play a bigger role in the Democratic primaries than many suppose), he is also by far the most liberal of the Democrat frontrunners.
Both Michael Moore and Kos (of the liberal megablog the Daily Kos) have said that Edwards has the most in common with their beliefs. He has just promised to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq ten months after he is sworn in, something none of the other Democrats frontrunners have pledged to do. He seems to be the candidate of choice for the far left core of the Democrat party.
The root of Edwards’ message is his aggressive populism. He claims to be against corporations, big business, and entrenched political interest, and for the little man. (There really can’t be a better representative of the poor than someone who pays $400 dollars for his haircuts, can there?). He has said that “I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy.”
In John Edwards’ world, “Corporations” are the problem with everything. No universal health? It’s the drug and health insurance companies standing in the way of progress. The Iraq War? Oil companies. Whatever the problem is, there is a sinister corporation behind it.
Of course, this worldview is absurdly naïve. Edwards and his supporters seem to think that there is the undeniable power possessed by corporations is simply a matter of corporate greed; the little man looked away for a minute, and the next thing he knew, a heartless CEO was denying him health insurance and outsourcing his job to China. Edwards sees CEO’s as literal robber barons smoking cigars in their counting houses in between jaunts to steal from the poor. He sees himself as a latter day Robin Hood, taxing the rich to give to the poor.
It is inevitable that big business will have a large amount of political power. Most business’ provide some essential service—food, energy, entertainment—and given the relative few options, and the massive global economy, it is inevitable that huge amounts of money will end up in a relative few hands. Money is power.
The only way to break that cycle is the limit the amount of money that can be collected by any one entity. That is the strategy used in Europe. To be sure, there are a few megacompanies in Europe (Nokia springs to mind), but most new megacompanies (Apple, Microsoft, Toyota) are formed in the United States or Japan, and China and India provide much of the manufacturing. Europe hangs on to the coattails of America.
So where is the power in Europe? Not in the overtaxed corporations, but in the government. And Europeans aren’t getting much of a return on their investment. Europe is crumbling. 80% of London crime remains unsolved. (That rate makes David Dinkins look like Rudy Giuliani). Rioting French “youth” (“youth” meaning “Muslim youth”) are so common as to hardly make the news. Economic growth in Europe is either slow or nonexistent. The welfare state is crumbling. Europe is wholly dependant on the U.S. for defense. (Which country has the second greatest number of America troops deployed there? Germany)
On the bright side, corporations don’t have much power over there. John Edwards can be happy.
It is fortunate that Edwards has little chance at the Democrat nomination, as he is easily their most electable candidate. In most polls, Hillary and Obama remain more or less tied with the Republican candidate. Edwards usually crushes him. Fortunately, it is doubtful that Edwards will get the nomination.
Edwards’ message resonates with the core of the Democrat party. However, it is a small core, and it is uncertain whether his message will resonate will more mainstream (read: not crazy) Democrat voters. His strategy is geared towards 2006—he focuses on the Iraq War and the need for change in Washington. The Democrats have had a full year in power, which undercuts his cry for change—when the GOP was control, it made sense, but a divided government gives Democrats like Edwards a shot at putting their plans into execution. The Iraq War, after the brilliant Petraeus surge, is becoming a bit of a non issue for Democrats. Even if the far left is right, and Iraq will explode into violence in the spring (that is their current argument, if you haven’t been paying attention), that will come too late to help Edwards. (The fact that a violence spike could help the Democrat candidate is a sign of how crazy the Democrat party has become).
Edwards’ antiwar and pro welfare message may resonate with voters sometime—but not this year. The war and welfare are issues that don’t have a lot of momentum behind them. Neither does Edwards. Thank God.