In the heat of early rhetoric and speculation about the declared candidates for the 2008 presidential election, not much light has gotten through to the people of the United States. Our media choose to focus on gossip rather than on issues, as I began saying in last week’s article. They like a good personality and a juicy story, and so they are currently giving one of the candidates, a Democrat named John Edwards, a lot of publicity.
Unfortunately, all of the publicity which I have seen focuses on the illness of his wife, Elizabeth. She is a cancer survivor whose cancer has returned and metastasized. The press is agog to discover how she is doing, how the family is handling the situation and whether or not a man with a sick wife should run at all. The popular wisdom is that cancer patients are likely to die, and this perception feeds the media frenzy. They know that their readers love to watch a train wreck!
I have not seen, either in the print media or on TV, one serious discussion of the issues upon which John Edwards is running. Unlike Michael Berg, the hapless Green Party candidate from Delaware, Edwards has the country’s attention. He ran with Al Gore in 2004 and made a respectable showing. And he is talking the issues. At least, he discusses them on his website.
His stands seem to me to be substantive and well thought out, especially on the issue of universal healthcare. He actually seems to have formed a coherent plan and gotten a funding plan organized to support it.
He is also one of the very few people who voted for the initial sorties into Iraq who are ready to say, “I was wrong.” Edwards says it loudly and clearly. Here is a quote from a recent interview:
“You want straight talk? I was wrong. The world desperately needs moral leadership from America. And the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.”
How I would love to hear others of national stature say, “I was wrong” about that vote that authorized the president to go to war in Iraq. And indeed, I will not vote for a candidate, come Election Day 2008, who has not come clean about that issue.
I watched one interview on TV in which both John and Elizabeth Edwards repeatedly responded to questions about her cancer by attempting to make that a segue into talking about national healthcare. The interviewer would not allow it. This is not entertainment, you see. This is that dull and boring stuff where one has to think.
It put me in mind of another good man, John Charles Fremont. He was a soldier and an explorer who surveyed and mapped the Mississippi, Des Moines and Missouri rivers in 1841, mapped most of the Oregon Trail in 1842, and, with Kit Carson, trod a trail now called the South Pass through to Salt Lake City in the late 1840s. He explored California’s Pacific Coast looking for passes for a proposed railway line from the upper Rio Grande to California and helped California join the nation as a free state.
Fremont was fortunate in marrying Jesse Benton, a woman of astonishing caliber. It was her writing of his reports on his discoveries which made Fremont’s name and brought him a good deal of public renown and popularity.
Fremont was a founding member of the Republican Party. He was elected its first candidate for president at their first Nominating Convention for the 1856 election. He was then the youngest man ever to run for that office. His motto was “Free speech, free press, free soil, free men, Fremont and victory.” Basically, he said that slavery was wrong and should stop being a practice allowed in this country.
The Democratic candidate felt that a Republican victory would bring civil war. Faced with the Fremont image of a good guy who had high ideals and the Buchanan image of a canny politician concerned to keep the peace, the United States voted for Buchanan.
What makes Fremont’s story interesting to me, besides its being the subject matter for one of the best books ever written in the biography genre, “Immortal Wife” by Irving Stone, is the fact that Fremont refused to stump. He wrote extensively about the issues of the day, which were as riveting as ours are at the present moment. His views were published and available. However, he did not feel the whistle-stopping route was acceptable. He felt that if the people were voting for him, they were voting for the issues. Why, he asked, was charming the public with image and folksy talk a proper thing for a statesman to do?
Would he have lost if he had campaigned? And if he had won, would he have started the Civil War four years earlier than it began? I do not know. I do know that Fremont was the last man ever to refuse to tart himself up for public display; the last candidate ever to trust the American people to think, ponder and choose wisely.
I do not need to look for quotes from our group’s channeling for this particular article, for “doing the right thing” is a concept that does not need inspiring words from the Confederation. Doing the right thing is something we all feel instinctively. We know what the right thing to do is.
What shall our choices be in 2008? As that election approaches, amid all the rhetoric about nothing except image and spin, I hope we all will put some time in on finding a candidate we can back, and then becoming active in this race. We are spiritual creatures first of all, and human beings secondly. And yet we are here on earth to bear witness to the light and to find and follow the love in each moment. Our issues are dire. The citizens of this Republic will hopefully respond with mind, heart and soul.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May we all be worthy and responsible members of this society, ready to find the love in the candidates’ responses to the issues and to support it when we do find it. May we use our earthly power wisely!