Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Gone...

Am saddened by the news that John Edwards decided to drop out of the POTUS race. He has the best policy proposals of the top three Democratic candidates (see the side-by-side comparison charts prepared by a policy professor over on HuffPo), including actually standing for universal healthcare, with comprehensive measures regarding reducing the costs of malpractice suits (thus laying to rest the extremely unfair smear that he was only an ambulance-chasing trial lawyer going after doctors - when he was nothing of the sort, but joe public in the U.S. doesn't understand there is a world of difference between suing doctors versus suing health insurance or pharma companies), and before the New Hampshire debate he was actually my top candidate choice (the reason I changed my mind was due to his ill-advised bully-boy behaviours against Clinton during the debate, when he chose to side with Obama and accuse Clinton for being the status quo, when Obama's political positions in fact represent far more business-as-usual by including concessions to right-wing policies, whilst Clinton is the one whose espoused policies are actually closest to his own).

However, despite his brilliant ideas, he didn't do himself any favours in debates - going on and on about his textile mill family background did not help counter the right-wing talking points about his expensive haircut or 18,000-square-feet family home, but rather made him sound unrealistically nostalgic for a bygone era, and thus by implication unrealistic about preparing America for the real challenges of globalisation.

More crucially though, his stance as the voice of the disenfranchised lower classes in America is hampered by the fact that he is a stereotypical white well-off middle-aged male and thus unfortunately discriminated against for his (lack of) colour - the recent joke on A Daily Show (ed: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - for a time its name switched to A Daily Show during the writers' strike) about how Edwards would be the only Democratic candidate to get the nomination a hundred years ago because he's neither black nor female is rather telling, in that the situation today is reversed when voters are exhorted to vote for a candidate solely on the basis of race or gender. In comparison to the photogenic succcess story that is Barack Obama chanting slogans of change and invoking MLK legacy in his speeches, combined with his mega-watt media-darling status, and Hillary Clinton's established networks of corporate support, Edwards, through no fault of his own, did not have much of a chance.

Ultimately, Americans will get the President they deserve. If they cannot see past the glitz and talks of substance bore them, they have only themselves to blame for whoever they end up getting. However I do have immense sympathies for the significant sensible minority who despair for their country and feel powerless against the corrupt political process. In fact, one could say that Edwards has seriously failed his supporters - and the democratic process - by quitting at this time rather than wait for another week, when the rest of the country finally gets a chance at the ballot box. But it is a mystery why he quit before Super Tuesday - why not at least go the distance rather than throw in the towel now when the big race has not even begun? Could it really be because he's afraid for his family, as some conspiracy theorists suggest when his daughter got involved in a car accident, which is on top of the strain already placed on him by his terminally-ill but extremely supportive wife? Or his finances finally could not cope with fighting the media blackout against his candidacy? (After all, though Edwards might be rich, but he's no Mitt Romney and does not have the means to bankroll a nationwide campaign). I do sincerely hope Edwards would be offered a VP spot on the Democratic ticket, and that might be more likely to come from Obama than Clinton.

The only plea I'd make as a non-American is that the next POTUS not instigate / incite / inflame terrorism in the world as much as it has already done so in the previous decades... (and before anyone gets hysterical over the above statement, please learn more about Latin American history and Middle-East conflict, and please recognise that I am in no way saying the USA is the only culprit in the rise of global terrorism).

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