What a way to wake up in the morning -- first we hear that Highway 101, the main freeway of the Bay Area, is still half-closed due to yesterday's oil spill (meaning horrendous commuter traffic), then we hear that John Edwards is dropping out of the presidential race.
I'm sad, but not surprised. I loved the promise of change that Edwards' campaign brought -- and I mean real change, not just change in the ruling party or change of strategy in Iraq or change in focus, but change in the way the system works -- like ending the influence of corporations and lobbyists, a real commitment to education for everyone and healthcare for everyone. But in the end, I guess the status quo fought back and won. There were just so many things against him:
1) The news media. All along, the media has decided who gets to run or not by bestowing that most precious of commodities -- Media Coverage -- on the Chosen Candidates. No amount of money spent on ads in this state and that state can compare to the coverage that candidates get on CNN or Fox News or NBC. The media have covered every little blurb that passes for news about Clinton or Obama, while Edwards has had to fight for each and every second in the spotlight.
When you think about it, who runs these media organizations? Big corporations like GE, the same corporations that stand to lose a lot of influence if Edwards became president and made good on his crusade against excessive corporate influence.
2) The campaign finance system. Edwards was the only Democratic candidate who accepted public funding -- which means he is limited to spending only $50 million and he cannot accept private funds for the general election (I've read around the blogosphere that his campaign was built upon the support of small donors, in fact, 93 percent of the campaign's donations come from donors contributing less than $100).
I think it was an honorable, principled stand that sent out the message that he is not beholden to any special interest groups, and would not owe anyone anything once he became president. But unfortunately the other candidates did not follow his lead, and so had way more more to spend to get even more media coverage.
3) This silly system of staggered primaries. Why can't all states hold their primaries on the same day? What gives states like Iowa and New Hampshire so much influence over who gets to run for president? Why are their states any more important than other states?
It's such a distorted perception. These "early decision" states actually have a minuscule portion of delegate votes needed to win a primary election. Think of this -- so far, only 452 out of over 4000 delegates have been awarded. Because Edwards has only 16 of those 452 delegates, people think there is no way he could win, but with so many delegates yet to be awarded, he could still actually get 2025 votes needed to win. If everyone voted at the same time, that is.
As I said, sad but not surprised. Edwards fought a good, honorable fight. I just hope he keeps fighting to make sure the things he stands for stay in the limelight.
See my other farewell to the Edwards campaign on SV Moms Blog.