After the sad event that was John Edwards ending his run for president, I wondered what he would do with himself next. While Clinton and Obama furiously courted him for a blessing, he and his wife, Elizabeth, have largely remained quiet and kept their own counsel. Until now.
Yesterday both John and Elizabeth committed their still-formidable political muscle behind a different campaign–joining the effort to withdraw from Iraq by tying it to our looming recession.
John Edwards had this to say:
“There is great concern, anxiety and angst out there among most Americans about their economic security. They are worried about a lot of things. They are concerned about the cost of a health care system that is broken and needs to be fixed. They are worried about how to pay to send their kids to college. The mortgage and foreclosure crisis is now becoming central to the economic insecurity an awful lot of Americans are feeling. All of these things are made much worse due to the war in Iraq. The American public sees a direct connection between the spending in Iraq and the economic anxiety caused by the price of oil and gasoline. They want to see this war brought to an end.”
Elizabeth had some sharp words of her own:
Elizabeth Edwards, in traditional fashion, saved many of her choice words for media. Lamenting that reporters “certainly don’t cover the connection between the issues,” she said the American people see there is “undoubtedly a connection between oil, the costs of transportation in this country, and this war.”
The effort, tentatively called Iraq Campaign 2008, intends to focus heavily on the domestic costs of a protracted Iraq war. “We have a limited amount of money and we’re spending much too much of our available resources on this war,” Elizabeth Edwards said.
The campaign already consists of a number of progressive heavyweights, including MoveOn.org, SEIU, the Center for American Progress, and the Campaign for America’s Future. The group also has the advantage of tapping in to the zeitgest of the public will, which clearly believes that Iraq is a millstone around our economic neck:
The way to get the country out of recession â€” and most people think we’re in one â€” is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they’ll spend the economy into recovery. (Emphases added.)
It pleases me to no end to see an idea I strongly advocate getting such traction from the public, the press, and the political players alike. Without question, withdrawing our troops from Iraq, even at the likely slow rate it will take, will free up billions of potential tax dollars that, if properly spent (as outlined in this excellent plan from the Economic Policy Institute), could jumpstart our economy and provide needed infusions of cash, jobs, and improvements to our decaying society–much more than handing out a few hundred dollars that are actually drawn from your own tax refunds ever could.
If John Edwards can’t be President, and Elizabeth Edwards can’t be First Lady, then here’s to them joining this campaign instead. I intend to ensure that this time, the outcome is very different for all concerned.