| This Sunday morning, before the Super Bowl and before Super Tuesday, I want to thank John Edwards.
Edwards made the Democratic primary a progressive primary. Edwards breathed new life into the heart of the Democratic Party, more so than Senator Obama or Senator Clinton ever could. Edwards ran a campaign of policies, a campaign of populism, and a campaign of the people. He raised the profile of issues at a time when celebrity and style rule in the media. What Al Gore is to global warming, John Edwards is to the Democratic party.
This election has been framed around the idea of change -- a winning idea, to be sure, and one that will contrast well against eight years of Republican failed policies. But change is more than electing the first female President, and it is more than electing the first African-American president. The type of change the American people need isn't cosmetic. It doesn't matter if we have someone in the Oval Office who looks different, it matters if we have someone in the Oval Office that acts different. The American people need a President and a political Party that is working for them, that is putting forward the best ideas on health care, the best ideas on education, and the best ideas on climate change.
John Edwards had those best ideas. His platform was one of the most detailed, most well-thought out, most progressive platforms that I'd ever seen. When the Democratic National Convention is held this year, they should make a motion to adopt Edward's platform. He led on the issues and on the ideas, and as Paul Krugman of the New York Times wrote this past week, he forced Obama and Clinton to follow him. From Krugman's column titled "The Edwards Effect":
[Once Edwards unveiled his health care plan], universal health care became a possible dream for the next administration. In the months that followed, the rival campaigns moved to assure the party's base that it was a dream they shared, by emulating the Edwards plan. And there's little question that if the next president really does achieve major health reform, it will transform the political landscape.
That is leadership. That is how you get the work done. And that is why every citizen in America -- regardless of race, creed, region, or Party -- should thank John Edwards.
Similar if less dramatic examples of leadership followed on other key issues. For example, Mr. Edwards led the way last March by proposing a serious plan for responding to climate change, and at this point both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are offering far stronger measures to limit emissions of greenhouse gases than anyone would have expected to see on the table not long ago.
John Edwards never made his campaign about him. He made it about us, and what would be best for us. Ultimately, I believe that is why he dropped out this last week. For one, he knew he couldn't win -- though he made the race about issues and he led on every issue, it is too difficult for the general public to know and follow that. Once the policy distinctions became so small, personality distinctions -- as they tend to do -- reigned supreme. He knew he couldn't win, and he wanted to give Obama and Clinton the attention they deserved. That being said, he didn't have to drop out. He could have easily carried through the primaries and quite possibly gone into the convention as the "ultimate broker."
But then he would be the one deciding who the next Democratic presidential candidate was, and not us. That's against everything he has fought for his entire life. He doesn't put himself in the center. You can talk about his money and his haircuts all you'd like, but Edwards and his campaign cared more for others -- at a time when political selflessness is harder than ever before -- than any other campaign in our country's history.
To honor Edwards' selflessness, I won't be voting for him in the primary. He dropped out so that our voices could be heard and we could choose who we wanted the next President to be, and I'm going to respect that. But I'm not taking the Edwards bumper sticker off my laptop -- not now, and not ever. When a Democrat becomes President of the United States this November, I don't want to forget why. In four years, when we have passed landmark health care and energy legislation, I don't want to forget why.
John Edwards is the reason why. And for that, I thank him.