The Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards is potentially the person most likely to realign the two major political parties for the next generation or two. Edwards is a Democratic political leader who is not only closely mirroring FDR as a historical figure but is doing so by following in the same political and economic traditions as FDR. The main differences are personal backgrounds and accents.
During the 1930’s, President Roosevelt essentially ended the dominance of the “Bourbon Democrats” in national Democratic politics and moved the Democratic Party solidly behind a political program of economic populism. As a result, the nation saw a couple generations of solid economic growth and mass prosperity. A vibrant middle class emerged from the policies promoted by FDR. The Democratic Party clearly replaced the Republicans as the stronger of the two major parties as a result.
Beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan, many Democrats in power drifted away from the core values of the Democratic Party and started running as “Republican-lite” candidates. They started trying to compete for corporate campaign money by permitting awful trade agreements that undermined the health of the American economy and weakened the American middle class while helping the economic elite become even more powerful.
Some Democrats playing footsie with Republicans and large corporations failed working Americans and the poor by letting the obscenely wealthy start paying much lower percentages of their incomes in federal taxes than the middle class majority. Many Democrats started turning their backs on some common sense elements of the Roosevelt tradition of having those able to pay higher taxes pay them. We call this progressive taxation. The rich pay should be paying higher tax rates since they have more influence on government policies and benefit more from them.
They completely abandoned our federal government commitment to preventing monopoly control by large corporations of many important aspects of everyday life. Price-gouging has become routine. Insider trading and excessive executive pay has become routine in the corporate world. Wealthy foreign corporations are often having more impact on government policies than the needs of average Americans. Media consolidation has blocked out almost all non-corporate voices in the discussion of public policy issues. Edwards wants less corporate control over everyday life and has specific programs in mind to move in that direction.
The wages of Americans have been suppressed. The ability to unionize in order to achieve higher standards of living has been attacked by federal legislation, right wing court rulings and harassment by oppressive federal government regulation by the Bush Administration. Edwards is the most labor-friendly Presidential candidate of the top-tier candidates. With Edwards, we have a candidate who both walks the walk and talks the talk. Edwards is strongly opposed to outsourcing American jobs and is committed to ending unfair international trade deals or tax policies that encourage corporations to move jobs out of the nation.
Poverty in America has largely been ignored by our political leadership since the 1980’s. We waste trillions of dollars fighting unnecessary wars but seem unwilling to seriously commit to eliminating institutionalize poverty. Edwards is the only candidate really talking about poverty in America. Poverty is a serious issue in many rural American communities and inner cities. Most candidates ignore the poor because they do not write big campaign donation checks. Edwards can give the poor hope and get them voting.
We remain the only nation out of the 75 most economically advanced nations not to have government guaranteed universal health insurance. We cripple our corporations in international competition by forcing them to provide for healthcare. As a nation we spend 17% of our economy on healthcare while our competitors spend 8%. Our competitors cover all citizens while we have 47 million uninsured citizens and even more underinsured. If we had not abandoned our FDR political traditions, this situation would have been corrected long ago. Edwards is committed to universal healthcare.
John Edwards is uniquely focused on returning Democrats to their FDR roots of economic populism. The Bush Republicans are committed to short-term “Greed Capitalism” that is as self-destructive as the Republican policies of the 1920’s. FDR saved American capitalism by reforming it with the New Deal. Edwards can do the same.
Edwards can restore the FDR coalition by running as an economic populist. He can win in places like North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Oklahoma. Edwards might even win in places like Texas. He can win without abandoning Democratic traditional values. Edwards can carry rural communities and small towns without going Republican-lite. Edwards will carry all the traditional Democratic areas and much more because he truly represents Main Street instead of Wall Street.
Although from a working class background instead of coming from great inherited wealth, Edwards is much like our greatest American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Edwards has similar views with a Southern accent.