Posts Tagged 'primaries'

John Edwards: More Grit Than Gloss

I’m sad that John Edwards has exited the presidential race. Why? I saw his as the most honest and courageous voice on the national stage, between his populist stand against poverty, naming corporate greed for what it is, and . . . imagine this . . . promoting that Americans should be willing to sacrifice as we address global warming.

I heard Mr. Edwards use those words when I was ten feet away from him at a Portland Business Alliance dinner in 2007 at the Oregon Convention Center. I have heard many speakers and been around many politicians. Yet I was deeply impressed. He was more gritty than glossy, almost in contrast to his good looks.

Mr. Edwards has called Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama with the news of his exit, specifically asking them to commit to addressing poverty more in their campaigns. I find it ironic that the populist candidate who stood most firmly for the common man ended up sacrificing his popularity in the process.

What almost nobody is talking about is the fact that poor people will suffer the most as global warming advances, and already are in the low-lying coastal areas of the world.

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Get The Candidates On Topic, Please!

As I’m following the primaries, two things keep coming to mind: why isn’t global warming central to the problems the candidates are addressing? And why aren’t we and the media expecting more courage and leadership from them on such an obvious problem?

Newspapers nattering about likability reminds me of the guys rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic was sinking. The largest scientific consensus that the world has ever seen (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is clear that polar icecaps are melting and inundated coastlines will create millions of refugees. On the solution side, there is huge opportunity in the economic transformation needed to move out of fossil fuel dependency. But the candidates give this the tiniest lip service, if that.

Whichever candidates we like or dislike, we citizens and the media should be pressing all the candidates on aggressive responses to climate change. Scratch that: we should be pressing everyone currently in office to make it a top priority.

The last time I was in a public forum with one of my senators from Oregon, I locked eyes with him and said, “Senator Smith, what is your plan for dealing with global warming?”

His answer came down to a dissembling minimization of the problem and a fear that if other countries in effect don’t go first, the U.S. will lose economically. It wasn’t a debate forum so I didn’t argue, but my hard eyes may have indicated I wasn’t buying it.

Later, a governmental affairs officer from a major Oregon company told me I had kicked Senator Smith’s butt. That such a mild confrontation would be seen as a strong one speaks worlds to what minimal courage we are mustering thus far from both our politicians and ourselves on dealing with the hardest problem in our world.