DALLAS (JTA) – American Jews have always been at the forefront of the fight for social justice, whether in the labor movement or the civil rights movement. We understand the enormous challenges facing this country and our world. We know that what America needs, and what the world needs, is a leader with the courage and strength to lead our great nation forward.
All three Democratic candidates are on the record as strong supporters of Israel. While continued support of Israel is of paramount concern to the American Jewish community, it is not the only issue we consider when choosing which candidate to support for president. Please allow me to offer the other reasons for my unqualified support for my friend, John Edwards.
Sen. John Edwards’ deepest values reflect tikkun olam – the ancient doctrine that we must “repair the world.” He knows that we in the United States, the most powerful nation on the planet, have two responsibilities. We have a responsibility to America – to stay strong and secure. But we also have another responsibility – to humanity.
Sen. Edwards understands that when we fail to meet the second responsibility, the entire world suffers. We used to be the light the rest of the world looked up to. We were the country of the Marshall Plan and the Peace Corps – not Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. We need to return to our proud past and to become, once again, a beacon for the world.
To restore our moral authority in the world, Sen. Edwards believes we will need to show moral leadership in our deeds. And there’s a lot of work in front of us. Forty years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Riverside Church in New York City and denounced the war in Vietnam. As he put it then, there comes a time when silence is betrayal – a betrayal of our joint responsibility to each other, to our brothers and sisters, not just in America, but all across the globe.
Sen. Edwards believes we need to do something about the billions of people living in extreme poverty around the world. Half of the planet – almost 3 billion people – lives on $2 or less a day. Global poverty is not just a moral issue – it is a national security issue. If we tackle it, we will be doing a good and moral thing – but we will also begin to create a world in which the ideologies of radical terrorism are overwhelmed by the ideologies of education, democracy and opportunity.
Sen. Edwards has announced a plan that would transform our approach to global poverty. The linchpin is a sweeping effort to support primary education in the developing world. As president, he will lead a worldwide effort to extend primary education to millions of children in the developing world, dramatically expand preventive health care in the developing world, improve drinking water and sanitation, and increase political and economic opportunity.
He also believes we must do something about the 37 million people living in poverty here at home. Hurricane Katrina brought the face of poverty right into our living rooms and showed us the two Americas that exist in our nation. That is why he has proposed setting a national goal of eliminating poverty in the next 30 years by building a “Working Society,” which builds on the lessons of the past to create solutions for the future. In the next 10 years, he believes we need to cut poverty by a third, improving the lives of 12 million Americans.
We also have 45 million Americans without health care coverage. John Edwards was the first major candidate to have a detailed, truly universal health care plan, which sets up health care markets around the country to give people a choice of good health care plans, including a choice between private and government plans.
Sen. Edwards also believes we must protect a woman’s right to choose. Last year, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 ruling upholding the federal abortion ban. This was the first time the court has upheld an anti-choice law that does not even account for serious threats to the health of individual women. Not only was the opinion a setback for women, it was a setback for our country. The decision said that partisan politics should trump the Constitution.
If we believe in a moral and just America, in real equality, in real justice, and you actually want to see America lead a moral and just world, we need your voice to be heard – and Sen. Edwards has provided a bold program of action to repair the world.
Gandhi once said, “You need to be the change that you believe in.” By supporting John Edwards for president, I strongly believe that every American can play a part in reaching the change we all believe in – and in electing a leader who will begin to repair the world.
Marc Stanley is a partner at Stanley, Mandel, and Iola, a law firm located in Dallas, Texas.