As the country now finds itself in the thick of the Democratic primary season, the contests held so far have brought the candidates to unexpected places. With Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry having superceded former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as the frontrunner, the eyes of the nation now turn to the upcoming primaries set to take place this weekend and next week, including the Feb. 10 contest in Virginia.
At this point, it's easy to predict a winner based on momentum or the Internet remix of the week. There's still a long way to go on the road to the White House, though, so the primaries yet to come and the dozens of delegates they will determine remain crucial in the decision as to who will take on President Bush this November. The Democrats have the unenviable task of selecting the candidate they believe has the ability to defeat an incumbent president who at many points during his term has possessed phenomenally high approval ratings.
We realize in an ideal world, where the point of electability would be moot, Howard Dean might be the candidate with the best policies and positions to serve as a foil to Bush. But we don't live in an ideal world, and Dean's poor showings in the primaries held thus far indicate that he probably doesn't have the support to handily defeat the president, let alone win the Democratic nomination.
That being said, we'd like to point out that although Dean may not be the answer for the ultimate future of the Democratic Party, he has certainly made several invaluable contributions to its cause.
Perhaps Dean's most admirable trait is also the one that gets him into the most trouble. He has never shown an unwillingness to speak his mind and refuses to renege on even his controversial opinions. Unlike some of the other Democrats in the running, Dean announced his opposition to the war in Iraq from the start -- there was never any doubt as to his sentiments, no matter how little the president or his fellow Democrats wanted to hear them. Despite threats to himself and his children, he signed into law the legislation allowing civil unions in Vermont. Many label Dean's hard line on his convictions as an uncompromising stubbornness, but we see it as a commendable characteristic of someone unwilling to pander to the whims of a fickle public.
The greatest virtue of Dean's campaign, however, has been the reinvigoration of the Democratic nomination process. He declared his candidacy early and got the nation talking. His yawps and yells may have become the fodder for late-night one-liners, but one cannot deny that his foibles have made interesting a procedure that many could have totally ignored.
So for his accomplishment in breathing life into the Democratic primaries, we thank Howard Dean. Reason dictates, though, that we look to another candidate with a more probable chance of beating the president. We believe that Sen. John Edwards is such a person. His positive campaign, Southern charm and humble roots can appeal to those Dean may have alienated in the older segments of the population. Despite his relative lack of experience in years in the political realm, Edwards is a well-respected member of the Senate who has fought for the ordinary people against large corporations during his career as a trial lawyer.
In a race where many of the candidates, perhaps excluding Dean, boast similar policies, the senator from North Carolina can reach the largest swath of the Democratic Party. We therefore encourage you to vote for John Edwards in the Virginia primary next Tuesday.