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It's Time for John Edwards to Get Off the Fence and Help End This Fiasco

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John Edwards has not endorsed either candidate.  Meanwhile, Hillary's "kamikaze" campaign continues to increase the probability of yet another four years of Republican rule.

It's time that John Edwards got off the fence and went to Indiana to help Obama and to persuade the Democrats of Indiana to "End It Here."

According to reports, the reason John Edwards has withheld his support from Obama thus far is this:  despite having more in common with Obama politically in some ways, when Edwards made a pitch to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to pick up Edwards's poverty issue and run with it, he found Hillary more receptive and encouraging than Obama.

If that is indeed the reason, what I would say to Edwards about that is two-fold.  

For one thing, get over it.  There's just too much at stake to let that get in the way of doing what you can to prevent this needlessly extended campaign to continue to damage the prospects of the Democratic Party for November.  How well do you think your "poverty issue" will be served if John McCain becomes president?

For another thing, I wonder if you understand that Obama might have been wise not to follow the path you wanted him to follow.  Don't assume that your message coming from Obama is the same thing, politically, as that message coming from you.  It is one thing for a white North Carolinian who has made a fortune litigating against corporate malfeasance to talk about poverty, and "Two Americas."  It's an altogether different thing for a black candidate with a background as a community organizer in South Chicago to emphasize the importance of addressing poverty in America.

Obama's chance for the presidency has depended on his running not as a black man, not as another version of Jesse Jackson, but as a man who transcends his race and is capable of building bridges across the divisions that separate Americans.  Your issues would have undermined that effort.

So for both those reasons, Senator Edwards, I hope you can put aside whatever pique you may have felt at the lack of enthusiasm in the reception Obama gave your pitch to him.

I hope you will come to the aid of your party, of your country, and yes, of the poor and underserved in America, by coming out now to endorse Barack Obama for President.   

And I hope you will go to Indiana, and do all you can with those constituencies that were most responsive to you --many of which are the very constituencies whose support Obama has had the most difficulty gaining in his competition with Hillary Clinton-- to get them on board, too.  

Please go to Indiana and tell them that they should support Barack Obama to end this damaging campaign and to make sure that their party, and your party, gets to take the White House back from the forces that serve power and privilege at the expense of average Americans.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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