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03 January 2008 @ 01:58 pm
Never Fear, Underdog is Here: Why I Support Senator John Edwards for President  
I'm a Democrat, and because of that fact it almost goes without saying that I have a soft-spot for the underdog. In the land of politics, particularly the arena that is the 2008 presidential race, anyone whose name doesn't start with "Hillary," and end with "Clinton," is an underdog. But, no, it's much more than that. You see, I have a soft-spot for real, honest-to-God hardworking people of principle. At the heart of the matter, I have a soft-spot for former North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

In December 2006, Edwards announced his candidacy in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, with a shovel in his hand. The politician played "the man card" perfectly: simultaneously asserting that he isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty (to be taken literally, due to the shovel in his hand as he made the announcement, or metaphorically speaking of taking charge and repairing the broken parts of our nation's government) while being a man of the people. He was in his element, speaking candidly, and I couldn't help but trust him.

Those of us who follow politics (and maybe some who don't) will recognize Edwards as the Democratic Party's 2004 Vice Presidential candidate, paired with John Kerry, in what would come to be a losing race. The ticket had many problems, picking up supporters all the while placing a seed of doubt in some. Criticisms varied from the validity of Kerry's military record to Edwards being "an empty suit," just a pretty face… you get the picture. The John Edwards we see in 2007 is a different man. After losing the election in 2004, he went straight to work – founding a poverty institute at the University of North Carolina and solidifying his stance on issues like healthcare and education – all the while playing the role of husband to Elizabeth, father to Cate and Emma Claire and Jack, and public figure.

I often marvel at the sheer genius of his campaign staff. Edwards is a spectacular man, but he wouldn't be where he is right now without the brilliant group of people he has working for him. Whether it's big names like Joe Trippi, whose resume includes stints working for the presidential campaigns of Dick Gephardt in 1988 and Howard Dean in 2004. It's important to understand that all candidates employ speechwriters and Communications Directors to craft the campaign's message, a Campaign manager to organize events and run the behind-the-scenes effort, along with many, many more people to shape and fine-tune a their ideas. So, while John Edwards is the name, face, and creator of the message – it's the job of the campaign staff to stir and shape and give voice to that message. The Edwards campaign employs the best.

When Elizabeth Edwards took on rightwing extremist Ann Coulter on MSNBC's "Hardball" earlier this year, it was reasserted that she was a force to be reckoned with. While her husband stands more in the middle on most issues, Elizabeth is very much a liberal. An open supporter of gay marriage (of which her husband has said he isn't sure how this issue fits with his faith), Elizabeth is vocal about the issues she believes in. And John doesn't stop her from speaking out. They acknowledge their differences, all the while presenting a united front. When news of the return of Elizabeth's cancer surfaced earlier this spring, the question in the air seemed to be "will John stay in the race?" In an article in the August 2007 issue of Esquire, Elizabeth spoke about her health and the campaign. "People don't understand, with your health the way it is, how John could keep running for president," journalist Mike Sager said. Elizabeth's response is a testament to the strength of her marriage, of her, and of the man she married: "You don't hear that from people who have cancer, or have someone close to them with cancer. They say […] I would do the same thing you're doing. It's almost universal. John listened to me. He waited for me to tell him what I wanted. I think he was probably relieved that I said what I said, honestly, but he waited for me to say it. He is respecting my wishes by staying in the race." They're a team, in every sense of the word. I find it incredibly refreshing to see a candidate's wife allowed to voice her opinions, instead of being expected to play host and be on her husband's arm at events.

From a policy standpoint, Edwards is the best candidate because his plans are pragmatic. They provide realistic solutions to problems our nation is facing, without stooping to play politics (the exchange system – I'll give you this tax break, if you'll give me this part of my program – it's what Washington has thrived on for many, many years) along the way. Take healthcare, for example. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, you'd probably agree that insurance is too expensive and hard to find if you're unemployed. Edwards' plan would require employers to provide coverage for all of their employees, it would lower the cost of healthcare by creating new tax credits and expanding existing programs like SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid, ultimately leading to laws requiring all American residents to get insurance. His plan is reasonable, realistic, and it calls for change, not simply reforming a system that doesn't work.

He might be the underdog, but John Edwards is the best candidate for President of the United States. And who knows, it's still early – maybe he'll be our next President.
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