I’ve gotten a lot more cynical since 2003, when my primary candidate of choice was Dean, followed by Edwards. Now that Edwards has declared his candidacy, I can’t help it but think the only anti-poverty programs he’ll actually pass are those that everyone already supports – universal health care, maybe a further increase in the minimum wage, and an official statement saying the government thinks poverty is bad.
The one highlight is Edwards’ admission that cutting taxes is not necessarily a good idea.
And those middle class tax cuts he campaigned on in 2004? “At this point, it’s hard to see how to do that,” Edwards said in an interview after his campaign kickoff in New Orleans.
I’m glad that after six years of skyrocketing deficits that are destroying the US dollar and with it the global economy, Edwards is realizing that tax cuts aren’t an especially responsible policy. I have nothing against revenue-neutral or revenue-positive policies that merely shift the tax burden upward, but Edwards isn’t the sort of politician who could get Congress to approve any tax increase, except maybe a poll tax on foreigners.
Ezra reports from New Orleans, where Edwards kickstarted his bid. He noted that a) the speech’s theme was about grassroots action, b) Edwards used explicit antiracist imagery, and c) Edwards didn’t talk much about poverty. While I can’t find much fault with b) and c), a) worries me; Edwards may be the Dean of 2008 – a pretend progressive who is able to avoid coming off as a Kerryesque flip-flopper by being more long-term in his opportunism, like McCain.
In addition, I fully respect candidates’ right to choose their own trademark issues, but I also reserve the right to get excited about them based on what they emphasize. The main problems that have emerged in the US since Bush took office are the deficit, Iraq, privacy, and health care. Global warming, education, immigration, and choice are lingering problems, while the gay rights movement has been a success story next to which Martin Luther King’s movement seems sluggish.
Candidates who don’t mention any civil liberties issue can’t help it but come off as people who’ll sell abortion out in a second and do nothing for immigrants and gays. Digby has an excellent post about how the Democrats are trying to appeal to Evangelists by adopting more socially conservative positions; against that background, I reserve the right not to trust candidates who deemphasize reproductive rights in their campaigns.
Dean was an untrustworthy opportunist, too. But at least he publicly stated that restrictions on abortion were futile, telling an anecdote about a 12-year-old girl who was impregnated presumably by her father. At the end, abortion was one of the few issues he was solid on. Edwards isn’t even solid on that.