Note from the editor; Mr. Edwards, we know you blog on Dailykos.com. Our 300,000 to 400,000 visitors a month don't overlap much with Kos and they'd like to hear from you too. You're invited to post an article, as well as a comment, in response.
rob kall, publisher, OpEdNews
Dear John Edwards,
I had the opportunity to attend your speech yesterday at the Auraria campus in downtown Denver. Overall I give it a thumb's up, but lets take a look at what you said, and what you didn't say. Perhaps you can clarify a few things for me.
As of the latest poll, you are in third place behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That means you'll need to try harder to get your message out; and that message needs to be clear. I applaud you for some of the things you said, but I'm still not clear where you stand on several issues, and more importantly, I didn't come away with a clear understanding of your overall ideology. So here's your opportunity to clear things up for me, and for the rest of those whose votes you seek.
You spoke of a grassroots movement, but in terms of helping you to get elected. If grassroots movements propose changes to the status quo, insisting on changes, or as you referred to them, transformational changes, will you listen? Will you take up the call and demands of the grassroots movements and implement them? Will you propose legislation and effect policy changes in line with these desires? In other words. will you listen to "we the people" rather than asking us to listen to you?
You spoke of equal opportunities for all, but did not talk about equal justice for all. You briefly mentioned the fact that there is an small wealthy class in this country, and briefly mentioned transnational corporations, yet you said nothing of how you might like to see that change. You stated you are pro union and wanted it to be as easy to join a union as it is to join a political party, by simply signing your name, but gave no answer as to how that will allow working class Americans to take the country back from the transnational corporations. Perhaps you can elaborate. How will we get the jobs back that have moved overseas?
You had several positive ideas on the environment, such as reducing greenhouse emissions, putting a cap on those emissions, reducing our dependence on imported oil, etc., which are all well and good. How about a plan that taxes those emissions rather than caps them? What about making the polluters pay rather than limiting the amount of pollution they are allowed to emit? The commons, the air, land, water, airwaves, the infrastructure, the courts, etc., all belong to we the people. How about a plan to make the corporations pay their fair share for the use of those commons and penalizing them for polluting those commons, rather than capping the amount of damage they are allowed commit?
You spoke a great deal about how America should lead the world, and how the rest of the world should turn to America in times of crisis, but did not define what crisis means. What crises would you include? Natural disasters, or would that include threats to "American interests" overseas? How would you define "American interests?" You said America should lead the rest of the world. Frankly, this leaves me a bit puzzled. Just what does that mean, and how far does it go? Is the rest of the world more important than out own communities? You spoke of helping Pakistan and Africa implement public school systems yet made no mention of our own failing public schools, which begs the question, where are your priorities? You feel that any who qualify to go to college in this country should be able to do so as long as they are willing to work 10 hours a week. What type of work does that include, and how does that address the need for an educated workforce to bring the quality of our population up to standards with other countries that allow free education up to and including a PhD?
Free education may not be a stated right, but for many, it is a perceived right, and it makes sense in the bigger picture as America slips further down the education slope.
You spoke of humanity, and mentioned that we should view what we do through the eyes of others, such as Iran. To that I say, amen. What of the humanity here at home? Will you view the plight of average Americans through their eyes as well? It is one thing to say we should talk to other nations, but I did not specifically hear you say that war should not be anything other than a last resort. Is it a last resort? Are there some things that are off the table? You say that universal healthcare will be expensive, and will be paid for by rolling back the tax breaks for the rich, but failed to explain how far those favors for the rich have gone, and to what extent you feel they need to be abolished.
You're running a distant third now. To take the lead you need to distance yourself from the top two in ways that may feel uncomfortable doing. It will take more than having a popular opinion on removing the troops from Iraq. It will take more than offering a plan on universal healthcare. It will take more than stating America needs to be an example to the rest of the world. What it will take is leaving no question as to exactly where you stand on the issues and leaving no doubts as to exactly what your ideologies are. It will take more than explaining what your vision of America is; it will take your willingness to allow your ideology to be shaped by those you seek to work for. If you are elected, you will be at the top of the bureaucratic heap, but you will still be an elected representative. You will still be a public servant. Explain to those whose votes you seek how you will serve us, rather than how we should take up your ideologies, what ever those may be.
I enjoyed your speech. I applauded along with the rest of the crowd several times, but I left without a clear understanding of just what it is you stand for. If you want my vote, make it clear why I should give it to you. It's mine to give, you need to earn it. Now, here's your chance to earn it. Begin with clarity. Help me, and others to understand just what it is you want from us, and let us know that what we want from you is even more important than what you want from us. I don't want to know why you're different than Hillary or Obama. I want to know why you're different than all that have come before you. I want to know if you are someone that will leave not only partisan politics behind, but someone that puts we the people first, not the corporations, the lobbyists, the special interests, and not even yourself. I don't vote for leadership. I vote for representation. Do you want to lead America towards your vision of what it should be, or are you willing to follow the lead of where the real power wants to go; the power of the people? Now that would truly be a transformational change, one I would like to see.
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