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John Edwards: Shouldn’t Black America Take a Closer Look?

October 8, 2007

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.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2007 7:34 pm

    Thought Merchant,

    I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you what a fabulous writer you are. Your flow seems effortless and you are always thoughtful, brief and eloquent. I look forward to dialoging with you in the future. Welcome to the blogosphere and good luck.

  2. October 8, 2007 9:16 pm

    “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.”

    Sadly this step in the right direction becaus it does not strike at the root of the problem. The problem is a failed policy of drug prohibition which has made tens of thousands into criminal, inflated a gestapo branch of government, inflated the prison popuation and made drugs truly profitable for criminals by driving up prices.

    I’d prefer a candidate who will end the tragic, stupid war on drugs. I can only think of one candidate who would do that.

  3. Chesapeake permalink
    October 9, 2007 12:02 am

    Thought Merchant,

    I agree with you.

    May I add to your post that out of the entire field of Democrat and Republican candidates, John Edwards is the only candidate to address almost the entire Covenant with Black America, which is authored and endorsed by many leaders of black America. Not only has he addressed it, he has embraced it. I invite you and other guests to this post to compare John Edwards’ position on health care, justice, housing, poverty, education, etc., to the positions in the Covenant. Then, compare both John Edwards’ position to those of Obama, Clinton, and the others (you will see that on many points, Obama, Clinton, and the others are silent.

    Now, while the proponents of the Covenant challenged America to test the candidates against the mandates of the Covenant, I believe they have failed to conduct that test because they have forgotten it or, as you suggest, they are distracted. I desperately hope that an awakening occurs before the first votes are cast in the primaries.

  4. October 9, 2007 2:18 pm

    Sounds like he’d make a great running mate for Barack Obama. They could play Neutral Cop-Good Cop all the way to the cemetery, er, I mean White House.

    Thanks for this: “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.”

    Thanks for this: “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.”

  5. michael permalink
    October 9, 2007 7:42 pm

    As a white person, I’d disagree with your comment about Obama: “He’s like that one Black friend a White person may have that allows him to feel that he’s not a racist.”

    In fact, Obama enjoys white support among “average Americans” because he’s the only Dem candidate who passes the “beer” test made famous in the 2000 election: Which candidate would you most want to have a beer with?

    * Hillary? No, thanks. I don’t respect women who “stand by their man” – AFAIC that makes her a weakling. I also don’t support censorship, which seems to be one of her primary causes.
    * Edwards? No. As a trial lawyer, he’d probably try to sue me for having a cigar.
    * Obama. Regular guy.

    Race only enters into it for white racists and black activists.

  6. October 10, 2007 12:04 pm

    Michael:

    You do know that having a beer with a black guy is a great superficial way to demonstrate you can tolerate blacks. The beer test is all about “tolerance.” The only folks American’s can’t have beers with – to use the ugly vernacular of “the bar” are c*#$’s and a$$holes. Now, that’s what you really mean – isn’t it. We all know that Hillary isn’t reviled because she’s perceived as a weakling. She been reviled because the Right sought to depict her as “a bitch who doesn’t know her place.” Anyone who has ever dealt with difficulties in marriage knows it harder to stay than to leave. Weakling my ass.

    The average American may have been duped into that beer business in 2000, but that same American neither expects nor needs to have a beer with the President of the United States. The notion that interpersonal acceptance of a head-of-state trumps race is hard to handle.

    Barack Obama is not a regular guy. He’s smarter than the average low self-esteem white voter who feels the need to elevate himself by nigger-izing the junior senator from Illinois. He’s better looking, has more money, charisma and a hotter, smarter, tougher wife. He has cuter kids and a bigger house. He’s written more books and has better prospects for fame and fortune. He’s even more humble than folks in similar circumstances.

    If that’s your “average guy,” not only have you failed Racism 101, you’ve had a few beers too many. Race only exits with white liberals and black conservatives.

  7. EricD permalink
    October 16, 2007 11:50 pm

    I’d love to see things like this cross-posted at a site like Daily Kos. I agree very much with what you have said, and will visit here regularly. Thanks!

  8. George Thompson permalink
    October 18, 2007 5:06 pm

    As a Black man in America I wouldn’t vote for John Edwards for three reasons (and none of them is his $400.00 haircut): 1) he used to be a lawyer and lawyers are scum, 2) he always talks about how his father worked in a mill (big deal….let it go for crying out load already) and 3) he’s a Democrat which means he is beholden to corporations and special interests. If he tried to buck the system they would have him killed or otherwise ruin his life and his family. Edwards would never take that chance. Washington politics is all about protecting your own. Those people haven’t represented their constituents in centuries.

    Black people should be looking at one of two options: 1) starting our own political party which is preferred so we don’t have to negotiate with whites or 2) forming alliances with the Green Party. Any political party that support reparations for the descendants of African slaves is ok by me. No Democrats do except for Kucinich, who admittedly is a Green Democrat and will never get the nomination. In other words Black people need to handle our own business without white folks as much as humanly possible until we get land of our own from reparations and can separate from the cancer that keeps killing us.

  9. Steve permalink
    November 27, 2007 6:44 pm

    Jesse Jackson: Only Edwards is Addressing Black Issues.

    In today’s (11/27/2007) Chicago Sun-Times Jesse Jackson points out that most of the Democratic candidates are ignoring Black voters and the issues that are important to them. Jesse Jackson says that the only candidate speaking out on poverty, reconstruction of New Orleans and the needs of America’s poor is John Edwards. Ironically, Edwards is only polling about six percent of the Black vote in the most recent national polls. Here is the article from the Sun-Times:

    “November 27, 2007
    “JESSE JACKSON jjackson@rainbowpush.org
    http://www.suntimes.com/news/jackson/668053,CST-EDT-JESSE27.article

    “Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they’re not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign. African-American and urban votes are critical to any Democratic victory. Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters. George Bush learned that lesson; that’s why his campaigns spent so much effort suppressing the black vote in key states like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. His victory margin was the tally of votes suppressed or uncounted.”

    “Yet the Democratic candidates — with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign — have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up.”

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/jackson/668053,CST-EDT-JESSE27.article

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