Dem Convention Absence Shows John Edwards' Real Tragedy: Poverty On The Back Burner, Say National Democratic Strategist Robert Weiner And Analysts John Horton, Richard Mann

Sep 14, 2012, 06:00 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, one of North Carolina's famous sons, the 2004 Vice Presidential Nominee, was clearly absent, and with him, the issue for which he had become a national spokesman. In a column in The Michigan Chronicle September 13-20, national Democratic strategist Robert Weiner, and analysts Richard Mann and John Horton, point out, "In 2004, John Edwards cemented himself as a symbol for the fight against poverty. However, since then his personal failures have forced him and his favorite issue off the map."

The authors say point out that CNN's Candy Crowley this Sunday said the Democratic Convention emphasized "the middle class, the middle class, and the middle class.  We are all for the middle, but what about those underneath?  We know what Tampa and the Republican Convention appealed to—the top.  Democrats hope to bring the bottom up."

They point out that In 2004 and 2008, Edwards spoke eloquently about "two Americas" and about poverty. The authors write, "As we watched C-Span re-run his 2004 convention speech recently, at first we felt a grating unease because of his personal misbehavior.  But then the power of the speech took over—it was riveting.  As he spoke, the issue was front and center. Since then, all we have heard on the issue is… silence."

The authors lay out the explosion of poverty and its impact: "Poverty exploded over the last decade with one in six people living below the poverty line, while the top American tiers have gotten progressively richer—since 2010 alone, 93% of all new wealth in America has gone to the top 1%.  Detroit has a shocking 44% of residents below the poverty level.  Meanwhile, the policies of both parties, whether under pressure to get anything done or due to coziness with campaign contributors, has been to give more and more tax breaks to the richest Americans despite evidence that jobs and GDP growth have not trickled down from the tax cuts.  'Trickle Down' has not worked since Hoover tried it. For all the Republican hoopla about tax breaks for the 'job creators,' the ongoing Bush tax cuts clearly aren't creating jobs," they contend.

Weiner and the other authors asserted that "even though Edwards betrayed his family, his party, and America, the country's impoverished citizens should hope the issue makes a comeback. The nation needs a top spokesman for poverty.  We have our corporate advocates… hey, Mitt Romney says 'corporations are people' and we should talk about income disparity 'in back rooms.'"

The authors contend that "the last time we had a real effort against poverty in America was Lyndon Johnson's War On Poverty.  Since then, the rich tax cutters have had a different kind of War on Poverty—one expanding the numbers by giving to the rich and to military contractors. Democrats should again lead an America we will be proud of, one with values for all. However, without a big-time spokesman for an issue, one who tirelessly, vocally, and with lots of media, presses and repeats the point, policy, and legislation, nothing real will happen. If there is a dedicated high profile advocate on the Hill or in a major position, yes we can make the change."

They conclude, "John Edwards, you launched a cause but blew it.  We need a new-found hero to come to the fore and take America back to our proud values. Who will it be, or are we destined for more policies of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich?"

Robert Weiner is a former senior Clinton White House spokesman and former aide to Congressmen John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Senator Ted Kennedy. John Horton is former policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates. Richard Mann is senior political assistant at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change

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SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates