Edwards has better policies for substantive change than either Clinton or Obama. Symbolism and speeches is not enough.
(1) While I find Obama inspiring especially when giving speeches, he has the worse plan of the top three contenders on healthcare and Edwards has the best. The best approach is expanding Medicare to cover all citizens which none of the top contenders currently support. Edwards comes closer than the other two top Democratic contenders. Edwards has a history of evolving his policy positions when educated by activists and experts with better ideas. Of the top three Democratic candidates, Edwards is the most likely candidate to eventually support Medicare For All. Obama's plan does not get us to universal healthcare and definitely leaves large corporations with excessive control of healthcare policies in America.
(2) While Obama always opposed starting the Iraq War, he would not get us out of Iraq as quickly or completely as Edwards. Clinton has not been a leader on this issue in the past or today.
(3) On trade issues, Obama is far friendlier to the so-called "Free Trade" approach than Edwards. For example, on the recent deal with Peru both Clinton and Obama supported the "Free Trade" deal while Edwards opposed it. These "free trade" deals all serve corporate interests and are devastating the earning power of working class Americans.
(4) Compromising with Bush Republicans on policy sounds good as a sound-bite but is not likely to work. Obama cannot unite all Americans behind a common set of policies and still be an effective agent of change. The Republican in the House and Senate oppose all the change ideas supported by the vast majority of Americans. Over 70 percent of Americans want universal healthcare but the Republicans like our current, inefficient, unfair, corporate-controlled healthcare system.
Any compromises with corporate Republicans on the healthcare issue will mean making the changes more inefficient, unfair and corporate-controlled! The same idea holds with trade policy, media consolidation, campaign financing, environmental protection, energy policy, global warming, taxation, labor laws, etc.
The only effective approach to change will come from confronting corporate Republican forces, fighting them and winning. This is the Edwards approach. It is the FDR approach to real change. It was the path to Social Security under FDR and Medicare under LBJ. It is not the Clinton Approach. It is not the path advocated by Obama.
While Obama would make a good Vice President on an Edwards ticket, he is not the best agent for change on the Democratic Presidential ticket in 2008. It was unfortunate that Senator Lieberman played a mentor role to Obama when Obama was first elected to the U.S. Senate. The independent Senator from Connecticut is out of touch with the core values of the Democratic Party when it comes to change on many issues. The Lieberman influence will need time to fade before Obama will really be ready for the top of the Democratic ticket or to act as the real leader for policy change in America.
Written by Stephen Crockett (Co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com).