5 reasons to thank the Edwards campaign

PHOTO: Former Senator John Edwards

John Edwards candidacy may have had little chance against the superstar campaigns of Clinton and Obama, but he still made a hell of a difference before the surprise announcement that he was bowing out. Let us count the ways:

  1. Edwards paved the way for Clinton and Obama to offer universal and near universal health care plans respectively. Edwards was the first candidate to announce a universal health care plan. Matthew Yglesias notes that before the Edwards plan both Clinton and Obama were proposing tepid health care reforms. Now, Clinton’s plan is practically a copy of Edwards plan, and the same goes for Obama. Thanks, in part to Edwards, fear of the insurance industry — and of being called a commie pinko by right wingers — is no longer enough to keep government mandated coverage out of “serious” policy debates.
  2. Edwards put the spotlight on plight of the poor in America. Republican and Democrats alike talk frequently about the difficulties facing the middle class, but other than Edwards and Mike Huckabee, there is little talk about the extremely poor. Edwards was steadfast in his advocacy for the poor. He rightly asked how the richest country on the planet could have homeless people on the streets. Including veterans…
  3. Edwards even got Bill O’Reilly to admit he was wrong. The FOX News bloviator insisted that Edwards was lying about there being 200,000 homeless veterans. After a very public battle between the two, O’Reilly eventually admitted that there are 200,000 homeless vets, but still continued to attack Edwards.
  4. Edwards swept away any illusions we had about our national media. Despite polling fairly well, and finishing second in the Iowa caucuses, Edwards was practically ignored in the press. The vast majority of media coverage is centered on the “horse-race,” but now it’s clear they can’t even cover that in a fair and accurate way. Don’t even get me started on the absurdity of the haircut “scandal.”
  5. Edwards could put Obama or Clinton over the top. Your favorite candidate could be the recipient of a well-timed endorsement from Edwards…

Flickr photo by alexdecarvalho


  1. Ian

    Yeah I could never understand the whole haircut scandal. Its his freakin hair, so what? And you know all the other politicians out there agree with that sentiment but they used it cause it made for an easy way to dismiss Edwards.

    I honestly feel that endorsements don’t mean as much as the media makes them out to be. I would hope that Edwards supporters, who hopefully picked him because they read up on what he stood for, would read up on what the other candidates stand for and make an equally informed decision.

    Odds and ends: O’Reilly is a tool. Edwards was a decent candidate but I feel he should focus on his wife.

  2. Chris

    What does it mean to “focus on his wife” in real terms? I’m sure he focuses on that everyday, but that shouldn’t exclude them both from trying to make a difference. Otherwise it’s just a pity/mourn-fest.

  3. I feel that if Edwards is so focused on changing the lives of the poor in America he should’ve stayed out of the presidential race. Fund raising skills are an essential part of the ‘race’ unfortunately and his skills could’ve better been used to aid the Center for Poverty he was once a director of and other national efforts. Actions speak louder than words and that type of action, creating real differences, would’ve meant more to the people of the US and to his ability to get elected than anything else.

  4. Chris

    I think this is an interesting exchange in light of your comment. From an interview with Bill Clinton:

    WALLACE: Someone asked you — and I don’t want to, again, be too morbid, but this is what you said. He asked you if you could wind up doing more good as a former president than as a president, and you said, Only if I live a long time.

    CLINTON: Yes, that’s true.

    WALLACE: How do you rate, compare the powers of being in office as president and what you can do out of office as a former president?

    CLINTON: Well, when you are president, you can operate on a much broader scope. So, for example, you can simultaneously be trying to stop a genocide in Kosovo and, you know, make peace in the Middle East, pass a budget that gives millions of kids a chance to have afterschool programs and has a huge increase in college aid at home. In other words, you’ve got a lot of different moving parts, and you can move them all at once.

  5. Ian

    Edwards’s wife has cancer, and because of it she could die. Now, supposing he really dearly loves her, and she dies mid-election, what is he going to do? What is he going to do if she dies if/when he is president/vice-president? Is his own personal success worth it? Campaigns eat up more time than a 40 hour a week job and they involve a lot of traveling. I think its pretty selfish, whether she wanted him to or not, for him to put her through it all so he could have success. The man is rich, why can’t he just take it easy and take care of his wife? Its not about pity and mourning unless she’s on her deathbed.

  6. Ian

    And I forgot to add how he took her to a freakin fast food restaurant for their anniversary to show he isn’t above living like a common man. I think it was Stewart who said that even poor people go and live like the other part (rich) on their anniversary.