It came out today that John Edwards really
did have an affair with former campaign staffer Rielle Hunter, though
he didn’t father her love child (apparently that child was conceived in another
extramarital affair that happened in the same year – this woman gets
around). While it remains to be seen as
to whether or not the child is truly his, the incident is definitely becoming a
stain that has all but ended his hopes of being the Vice Presidential
nominee. In the past I’ve
steadfastly refused to give attention to politicians’ personal lives unless
they were relevant to performance in public office, which is hardly the
case here as the politician in question (Edwards) does not even hold public
office. That standard is one I’ll
continue to adhere to.
So what fidelity problems am I referring to in the title of
this entry? Fuck Edwards’s personal
life – I’m talking about his college aid program, College for Everyone.
for Everyone is a program started by Edwards at Greene Central
High School in Snow Hill, North Carolina.
Basically the program offers to pay for students’ tuition, fees and
books for one year in exchange for the students working part-time (10 hours a
week). As someone who believes the
government should essentially fund college education the same way it funds
K-12, I thought the plan didn’t go far enough – why just one year, and why only
for those who would work? – but it was a step in the right direction.
The program was apparently a huge success, as students who
had previously dismissed the notion of college as too expensive suddenly had
access to a huge, life-changing opportunity.
Apparently the rate of college application went from a mere 26
percent (an unfathomably low rate from my point of view) a few years ago to
94 percent this year.
It was such a great program that a week ago, Edwards ended
To be fair, it had always been “designed as a three-year
pilot”. But if it was a pilot program
and it turned out so well, why not continue and even expand it? Edwards himself said, “The chance to go to
college meant everything in my life, and I want every young person to have the
same chance.” Okay, well now thanks to
you many people at that high school who would otherwise have been able to go to
Seriously, this makes no sense. When a program does well the typical response is to continue and
expand it, not end it. Where is John
Edwards’s fidelity to his generous and successful program? Could it be that with his presidential
ambitions ended, so too have his concerns with the ability of America’s
students to go to college? I should
hope not. But this, not his sexual
escapades, is what I find truly disappointing. I only hope that someone else, or hopefully Edwards himself, will
realize what a mistake this, pick up the pieces, and continue doggedly pursuing
the dream that Edwards, myself and millions of Americans share – college truly
EDIT: There are now reports that John and Elizabeth
Edwards won’t be going to the Democratic National Convention later this
month. If it’s because they don’t want
to (unlikely considering he just freakin ran for President this past year) that’s
understandable. But if it’s because of
this affair thing, that’s completely ridiculous. Edwards’s personal indiscretions have nothing to do with his
strong message of taking on big corporations and special interests, and of
using active government to serve and uplift the American people. And if the DNC is going to be a “no-cheaters”
zone, why the hell is Bill Clinton going to be there?