A political interlude

Despite the strange silence that has reigned over my blog in recent weeks, weeks of travel far and wide over this fine nation of ours, rest assured that I have been reading, watching, and thinking. In fact, I am currently in the midst of Martin Chuzzlewit, have just started the (so far strangely ungothic) Mysteries of Udolpho, and am staving off my Tar Heel withdrawal (A whole week between basketball games, since I missed the women's game on Tuesday. A Whole Week!! April will be a grim and haggard month) by reading The Last Dance, a book about the Final Four that a Dookie friend loaned me. His act of friendship is all the more profound given that 1) Duke made an uncharacteristically early exit from the NCAA Tournament this year and 2) the book uses as its case study the 2005 tournament, which UNC won.

The common ground of Chapel Hill (site of my beloved alma mater) brings me to a topic which has taken possession of me this afternoon (it is still late afternoon on the West coast), bringing to a halt all reading and watching, but not all thinking: the press conference that John and Elizabeth Edwards gave from Chapel Hill today, announcing that her conference has returned and is no longer curable.

The first part of the conference can be seen here (courtesy of the miracle of YouTube):

and the second part here:

I have to say I find this press conference astonishingly mature, honest, and loving. In what must be an extraordinarily difficult time for them as a family, they clearly explained to the voters, the press, and their donors how and why they came to their decision to stay in the race, and it is (to me at least) obviously more about their (specifically HER) conviction that their progressive platform is necessary for America at this very moment than it is about personal ambition. The most moving part of the whole event, for me, is when a reporter asks whether John had ever considered saying to Elizabeth "I know you want me to keep going, but I just will not/ cannot," and John Edwards replies that he would never mandate anything to her, nor she to him. (Do you "mandate to"? "For"? Aargh - my arch-nemesis, prepositions.)

I don't often talk about politics on my blog, largely because I find myself plentifully capable of offending people without even venturing outside the topics of art and literature rather than through a lack of interest or strong feeling on the subject. For some reason this was just so profoundly moving to me - both harrowing and uplifting, somehow - that I had to write something. I am quite a bit more sentimental, I must admit, about politics than many of my analytical friends would find comfortable. I think they have the vague fear that sentiment and politics inevitably combine to form something like fascism. I don't always agree with Edwards, but I have a longstanding affection for him, and think that he would make an excellent president. In fact, I think that Elizabeth would make an excellent president, but I am equally sure she would be a profoundly effective First Lady.

Part of the sentimental hold the couple has on me results from a primal democratic bond that is almost familial: the very first vote I ever cast, age 18, was for Edwards, when he himself was running his first campaign in North Carolina, against Lauch Faircloth for the state's junior Senate seat. To date this remains my most effective vote: Edwards won by a relatively small margin, and that election launched him on the national stage (much to the dismay of North Carolinians). In a field of Democratic possibilities that make me feel more hopeful that I have since that very first vote, the Edwardses have my support and best wishes, both politically and personally.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Wendy says:

    You've been NOMINATED! I listed you today for The Thinking Blogger Award (check it out on my blog: caribousmom.blogharbor.com).

    You have now been officially "tagged"...can't wait to see who you pick :)

  2. Thanks, Wendy! What an honor! I am going to check out the rules right now, and then ponder who will make up my list... Hard choices ahead!

  3. kookie says:

    I like John Edwards. He is always honest and he has a good sense of humor. I'm glad he is such a devoted and loving husband, it speaks well of him as a man. However, I don't know if he's 'presidential material'. I think to be president have to have a bit of a ruthless streak to you. Something tells me that Barack Obama has what it takes. Edwards would be a good vice president.

  4. I also really like Barack Obama (which is why I say that this batch of candidates makes me more hopeful than I have felt for the last two elections), and I think both he and Edwards bring a smart, ethical, inclusive freshness to politics that will really appeal to an American public tired of the corruption and cronyism demonstrated by both parties of late. To tell you the truth, on some issues (gay rights) I like Obama better than Edwards.

    Nonetheless, it seems to me that Edwards has carved out an impressive progressive platform that is far more thoughtful and morally sound than anything else offered up by politicians in recent memory. I have been following him for a long time, as I noted in the post :), and in recent years he has become notably more presidential as he found the issues he really believes in and took a firm stance on them.

    I appreciate his firm stance that he was wrong in his vote on the Iraq War and presidential powers (proving that changing your mind is not "flip-flopping" but a keen reflection on the morality and soundness of your own actions). When I saw him speak on poverty, he had a conviction and an urgency behind his concrete policy proposals (a profound sense that our current system is WRONG and is causing active pain every day that it continues) that was energizing in a way I had forgotten politics could be. It reminded me that politics is hardly the power game it has come to resemble in this country, but has an immediate and lasting effect on the lives of its citizens.

  5. kookie says:

    I totally agree with you, Ariel. I'm glad people are finally starting to see (with Edwards' help) that changing your mind on an issue (once new evidence is presented) is not a weakness or 'flip-flopping'.

    And I seriously wonder about Barack's claim that if he had been in the Senate at the time he 'never would have voted for the war'. How could he know that? He might have, given the lies the Bush administration told to get that vote passed. Lots of good people did.

    However, because gay rights are especially important to me (my brother is gay), I have to stick with a candidate that is going to look after the best interests of all of our citizens and not bow to the religious right. I trust that Obama is that candidate.

    Isn't it odd that everyone (i.e. the media) says that Hilary Clinton is the front runner, but yet I can't find one person who is going to vote for her? In my house alone, we have 3 votes for Obama and 1 for Edwards.

    ps-I know what you mean about keeping politics to yourself. I'm always afraid that some of my more 'god-fearing' readers are going to take offense if I post something especially left-wing. Like you can't be religious and on the left at the same time. ;)

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