Democratic Underground  

John Edwards: Helping others share in the American dream
January 19, 2004
By DjTj

Editor's Note: To mark the beginning of the primary season, the editors of Democratic Underground solicited articles from our members in support of the eight Democratic presidential primary candidates. Publication of these articles does not imply endorsement of any candidate by the editors of Democratic Underground.

John Edwards has come out of nowhere in Iowa this past week, and many people don't understand how it happened. The media wrote him off and so did his opponents, but it's really very easy to see the appeal of John Edwards. He has no hidden agenda. He has no ulterior motives. There are no mysteries about his past. He is running on the story of his life, and his story is one that Americans love to hear.

Born in a small town, son of a millworker, first in his family to go to college - you've heard the story. Millionaire trial lawyer, rising star in the party, boyish good looks - did Hollywood write this script?

John Edwards lived the American Dream, and he is running for President to help other working Americans share in that dream. His platform starts where he got his start, through education. Edwards wants to give higher salaries to teachers who teach in poorer districts, give scholarships to students who become teachers, and provide one year of free tuition to any student who works or performs community service for 10 hours a week.

Education is very personal to Edwards because he has two young children that will spend their grade school years in the White House. This focus on children is emphasized in his health care plan, which will provide coverage to the 12 million uninsured children in America. He also wants to strengthen the health care safety net by supporting public clinics and hospitals that care for the needy. As a lawyer, John Edwards helped dozens of struggling families that were devastated by medical bills. As President, he wants to help millions more.

The centerpiece of Edwards' platform is his economic plan, which is a comprehensive proposal to lift up hard-working middle class people. It starts by protecting jobs through fair trade agreements and giving a 10% tax credit to corporations that keep jobs in the United States. He will also raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment benefits, and strengthen labor laws. Most importantly, Edwards will create a tax code that rewards hard work instead of pandering to the rich. He will provide a tax credit to first-time homebuyers and match funds in retirement accounts while cutting corporate subsidies and closing corporate tax loopholes. He will reduce capital gains for 95% of Americans, helping them invest and save for the future while raising capital gains for the richest Americans that are living off their investments. This is not class warfare; this is a new way of thinking about taxes: shifting the burden from work back to wealth. In his own words: "I believe the way a rich nation gets richer is by giving all its citizens the chance to get richer, not by only helping those like me who've already succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

The education, health care, and economy core of his platform comes from his first life as a hardworking young man that became a successful lawyer. However, Edwards has been preaching another plank of his platform in Iowa that comes from his experience as a Senator. John Edwards is a relative newcomer to the political scene and when he came to Washington in 1999, he found a lot of things that need cleaning up. He has never taken money from a PAC, and he wants to ban all registered lobbyists from contributing to campaigns. He also wants to shine a bright light on lobbying activity by forcing lobbyists to disclose who they met with and what bill they discussed every two weeks. Edwards wants to do more than campaign finance reform; he wants to rewrite the rules and shut down the entire system of buying influence in Washington.

But can he win? He faced that question six years ago, and in November of 1998, John Edwards was the only Democrat in the nation to unseat an incumbent Republican Senator. He did it in a state where Bush beat Gore by 13%.

In 1998 and in Iowa this year, Edwards has changed minds by using the skills that made him one of the best trial lawyers in America. He explains economic and political ideas in language everyone understands. He'll never talk down to you or pretend he knows what's best for you. John Edwards listens to your concerns and takes the time to explain why his policies are the best. He doesn't attack other Democrats.

His foreign policy reflects this personality. Edwards believes that America must treat other countries with respect in order to gain their respect. He stresses engagement with our allies and he'll make America safer by restoring its image and making us a country that is looked up to and respected by the world. One day after the fall of Baghdad in 2003, John Edwards stood on the Senate floor and urged President Bush to share this vision: "A free Iraq could serve as a model for the entire Arab world. And if done right - with humility, patience and cooperation - this effort to rebuild Iraq will bring the world together and return America to a place where it is respected and admired."

Winning this election is not about firing up the base and it's not about pandering to the middle. It's not about winning the Midwest or the South, although Edwards can do that. The people who will decide this election aren 't single issue voters and they don't listen to the pundits. The votes we need to win this election are in the hands of people who are looking for a message to believe in and a person they can trust. They want someone that can lift this country up and give them hope for the future. They're looking for real solutions to their problems. They're looking for a President that will make them proud to be Americans again. They will find John Edwards.

For more information about John Edwards, please visit

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Democratic Underground Homepage