Editorial: Our choice: John Edwards

The past four years have been the nadir of the modern Democratic Party. After losing the closest election in American history and subsequently being humiliated in the midterm congressional elections of 2002, the party has hinged much of its hope on the 2004 presidential election. Aiming to take back the White House, Democrats have seen an unpredictable race with a confusingly large number of candidates. Distinguishing himself from the pack, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina offers the most compelling, brave vision for the Democratic Party and is the Democratic candidate most closely allied with causes important to college students.

By all accounts, Sen. Edwards is an extraordinary leader. Despite only serving one term in the U.S. Senate, he already put himself in the middle of important legislative fights. Standing with Senate stalwarts like Ted Kennedy and John McCain early in his Senate tenure, Edwards was a chief sponsor of the Patients Bill of Rights and showed extraordinary mettle in fighting for its passage. While this effort was not successful, he plans on making the bill a priority of his administration. Through this, Edwards has shown himself to be a legislator who values principles and convictions over political expediency.

From the beginning of his campaign, Sen. Edwards laid out a positive, pragmatic vision on both the domestic front and in international affairs. While some candidates outline broad, idealistic and unrealistic initiatives, Edwards has consistently offered small-to-medium-sized programs that have the opportunity to work in his “Real Solutions for America” booklet. In international affairs, Edwards understands the nuances behind the need for multilateralism while not discounting the potential or necessity for America to act alone.

Even in the face of disparaging polling numbers and an overly negative campaign atmosphere, Edwards stayed positive and on message. Edwards, like other great leaders before him, recognizes the need to provide Americans with a vision of how great things can become rather than lamenting about how bad things are.

Edwards has distinguished himself on many other issues important to Democrats and college students. In his campaign, he has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights. Edwards supports civil unions as a means to extend benefits to gay couples, as well as an end to the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, meaning he favors allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Sen. Edwards embraces the successes of the Third Way in that, while he would repeal the Bush’s tax cuts on the upper class, he would leave those that aid middle-class families in place.

Some would point to Edwards’ relative inexperience in politics when critiquing his potential candidacy. Arguing that the post-September 11 world requires a president with significant international experience employs faulty logic. Decades of experience are irrelevant if they have not produced a candidate capable of formulating informed foreign policy. Sen. Edwards has proven himself in this regard, understanding the intensity required to protect the United States from the threat of terrorism.

Outside of foreign affairs, Edwards’ perceived inexperience is an asset. Able to project himself as a Washington outsider, Edwards provides a clear alternative to a Bush administration beholden to special interests.

This page gave strong consideration to supporting Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. He has distinguished himself in service to his country, and his military experience in Vietnam and 20-year Senate career leave little doubt as to his qualifications to be president. But while Kerry would be an outstanding nominee, the Democratic Party does not need another politician, it needs a leader like Edwards.

Edwards’ charm and charisma are reminiscent of such past Democratic political stars as Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. Above all, his Southern roots uniquely place him as the most-qualified Democratic candidate capable of competing in all areas of the country – not just in the traditionally liberal Northeast and Northwest. And while The Hatchet will reserve judgement on the general election until November, it is proud to endorse Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

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