While Sen. John Kerry returned to his post as senator of Massachusetts after the 2004 presidential elections, it appeared that his running mate, John Edwards, had fallen off the face of the earth. After Vice President Richard Cheney inched his way past Edwards and into the White House, Edwards’ publicity naturally declined.
I recently discovered, however, that Edwards not only continues to speak at various engagements put on by groups ranging from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations, but he is also currently traveling the nation in an attempt to draw attention to an issue he discussed on various occasions during his try for the vice presidency: poverty in America.
Kudos to Edwards for not allowing the end of his 2004 campaign to signal the end of his efforts to aid the needy.
Regardless of his political affiliation, Edwards’ tireless efforts to alleviate the financial burden of the impoverished should not go without recognition.
Edwards is the current director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, a program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that is dedicated to impacting the lives of needy Americans in a both positive and practical way.
In North Carolina’s Greene County, for example, the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity has created a program that attempts to make college a reality for all high school graduates who are willing to work for 10 hours a week.
Under the provisions of this program, the Center would pay for the tuition and books of participating college students for their entire first year of college.
By continuing to advocate for the nation’s destitute, even after suffering defeat in 2004, Edwards demonstrates the attitude of an ideal politician: a persistent, aggressive devotion to the American people.
After losing the election, Edwards could have chosen to fall into a pit of apathy and bitterness, shunning all opportunities to put himself in the vulnerable position of public leadership.
He could have become a political pundit, producing a wealth of words that would have been of use to no one but his bloated ego.
But refusing to be relegated to the list of society’s could-have-beens, Edwards kept pushing these issues, even after the campaign trail had ended. This type of stubborn integrity is rare in the field of politics.
Edwards often speaks of a social class that is largely overlooked by society: the working poor. ‘No one should work full time and live in poverty in this country,’ Edwards once said.
To remedy this problem facing millions of Americans, Edward suggests taking action that puts more money into the pockets of the working poor.
Specifically, Edwards wants to see the national minimum wage raised from $5.15 an hour to no less that $7.50 an hour.
However, some say that behind all these public appearances, Edwards has a hidden agenda: running for president in 2008.
Many of the public appearances he has made of late, they say, are the precursors to a full-blown campaign.
When asked directly whether he would attempt another run for office, Edwards said that his main concern for now was to care for his wife, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.
However, Edwards hasn’t ruled out the possibility of running.
Regardless of whether or not he will return to the race for political office, Edwards has shown that what he says on the campaign trail certainly isn’t a quick-fix solution created exclusively for the purpose of bolstering his public opinion ratings.
He refuses to be governed by the laws of corrupted politics, and I think that America would be better off with more politicians who do likewise.
Paul Oginni is a first-year biological sciences major.