John Edwards: Shouldn’t Black America Take a Closer Look?
By Thought Merchant
John Edwards has the boldest platform addressing issues that are crucial to African Americans. Yet in the smoke screen of “The Great Black Hype”, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton’s perceived “Black Husband”, Bill Clinton, John Edwards is getting little traction in the polls as well as in fund-raising. Why is this the case? Unfortunately, because African Americans are being pushed in the political direction of two candidates whose main concerns are not primary to the sensibilities of the Black Community.
Hillary Clinton as a candidate must foster the image of strength and security when it comes to foreign policy. Because of her gender, and Bill Clinton’s record of cutting the military budget, Hillary must seem more hawkish than the normal Democratic candidate. Hence, the domestic issues that are of main concern to African Americans cannot afford to be her priority.
The naivete of Blacks in supporting Hillary Clinton due to Bill Clinton’s perceived sympathy to their cause has been shown on this blog to be misplaced. Nonetheless, Hillary will still garner great support among African Americans because of this erroneous perception.
Barack Obama as a candidate lives in constant fear of alienating white supporters by seeming too aggressive on the core “Black” issues. Obama is paying lip service to the normal domestic agenda Democrats eagerly toss about, but his campaign lacks any passion in its attempt to tailor policy that inspires the masses of the Black electorate.
Barack Obama is White America’s feel good candidate. He’s like that one Black friend a White person may have that allows him to feel that he’s not a racist. Obama’s candidacy is a fantasy for Whites in that it deludes them into believing that somehow his popularity proves America is beyond race. Obama’s candidacy is a curse for Blacks because he has to keep a healthy distance from the African American political agenda so as to not offend White liberal sensibilities.
Enter John Edwards. Edwards represents the nature of the Democratic Party at its best by embracing its most admired quality: pure economic populism. For African Americans, what this means is that John Edwards understands that when 25% of Blacks live in poverty, and unemployment is disproportionately higher among African Americans, being the only candidate that has made ending poverty as we know it a goal of his political platform makes him a candidate that needs to be looked at closely by the Black Community.
Not only is Edward’s platform beneficial to the Black poor, his support for Affirmative Action, for a strong Civil Rights Agenda, and for small business development are issues dear to the Black middle class as well.
John Edwards on the Jena 6 case:
“As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel a special responsibility to speak out on racial intolerance. To measure our progress in the fight against racism, today our nation looks to Jena, Louisiana. Americans of all races are traveling to Jena because they believe that how we respond to the racial tensions in Jena says everything about who we are as a nation. ”
The Edwards campaign also addresses the disproportionate affect the criminal justice system has on African Americans. His capaign has the following statement on their website:
Ending the Disgrace of Two Criminal Justice Systems
Our prison population has increased more than tenfold in the course of a single generation, with a disproportionate impact on African-American communities. Edwards will reform sentencing rules to address the disparity in punishments for crimes involving crack and powder cocaine and limit mandatory minimum sentences for first-time, non-violent offenses. Edwards supports alternatives to incarceration – such as drug courts – for first-time, non-violent offenders as well as re-entry programs that include drug treatment, literacy education and training to help ex-offenders get back on their feet.
John Edwards is a candidate that deserves close scrutiny by African Americans. Unfortunately, the distractions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are still blocking the vision of the Black Electorate. Hopefully their view will become much clearer before the Democratic Primaries.