Volume 9, Issue 3 University of Houston
Edwards' early campaign examines old issues
by MONICA GRAINGER
Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., is running for president of the United States of America -- and you heard it first on YouTube.com. The online announcement aired on the evening of Dec. 27 with the rest of the media catching up the following morning.
Edwards' campaign platform, contrary to his announcement, is not visionary.
Instead, Edwards anticipates old (or at least tired) issues to be his best springboard into the executive office: foreign policy, energy and pollution, wages, universal healthcare and education.
Edwards' foreign policy aims for the immediate return of 40,000 to 50,000 American troops from Iraq, about one-third of the total with the reduction to continue over time so Iraqis can take control over their lives, Edwards said to the National Press Club in a June 22 address. This leaves the other two-thirds with Iraqi insurgents who, Edwards hopes, will be less violent once they perceive an American withdrawal.
Iraqis, however, are not united on who should run their country even if they are sure that it should not be the United States. A sudden withdrawal could catalyze sects now kept at bay by the presence of U.S. forces into more violent attempts to wrest power. Edwards' solution to this potential scenario expressed in the same speech seems to be simple, if disdainful. Edwards said there should be a shift in responsibility to "the other countries in the region who have expressed an interest in securing the stability of Iraq."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an as yet unannounced Republican contender, wants to instigate a "significant and sustained" attack in Iraq with a minimum of three to five more brigades, comprised of about 3,500 troops each, deployed in the country. McCain's hawkish idea is to quell factional violence with a increased attack. He carefully notes that this tactic, dubbed the McCain Doctrine by Edwards, is not a short-term solution. Edwards is convinced it will only further escalate violence.
Edwards has said his other foreign policy aims include "preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" and "fighting extreme poverty and diseases" worldwide.
Energy and pollution policy see less overt advocacy from Edwards' campaign, which recognizes the aging issues but has few specific policy solutions for them. Edwards' campaign entertains a vague notion that the U.S. should seek "energy independence," yet fails to address the unequivocal consequences of such a move: higher prices in oil, and subsequently, in all industries using the substance. U.S. buyers would be coerced into buying not from countries enjoying a comparative advantage in producing oil but from countries bearing relatively high costs for producing the liquid gold -- to wit, the United States.
If, however, Edwards agrees with fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi's Orwellian doublespeak, then skyrocketing oil prices could actually benefit the United States by reducing pollution through effectively denying a large proportion of the U.S. population the ability to drive. The part of the population most likely to be excluded, however, will be low to moderate income earners, a harm that does not mesh with traditional Democratic Party mantra.
Edwards recovers true to party ideology, advocating minimum wage increases while scorning two more economic inevitabilities of such intervention -- unemployment and inflation.
Unfortunately, even if a minimum wage hike was a good idea, congressional Democrats already have plans to achieve it, making the issue a nonstarter at best for Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign.
Edwards also advocates universal healthcare, yet provides no specific policy solutions addressing both how to provide universal healthcare and how to pay for it in the long run.
Modeled on North Carolina state policy, Edwards' education plank pays for tuition and books to high school seniors qualifying for college who agree to work 10 hours per week for their first year of college education. The unintended consequences of such a subsidy are woefully apparent: higher education costs as demand is stimulated by an influx of government monies coupled with a corresponding inability in the general populace to pay as tax burdens increase.
We anticipate more elucidation of Edwards' policy objectives as the presidential bid progresses. After all, as Edwards said, " a campaign has a natural maturation process."
These issues have been maturing for decades, though, and Edwards' campaign would be smart to set forth specific policies.
Grainger, a political science and economics senior,
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org