John Edwards’ Hypocrisy of "Two Americas"

10 05 2007

Filed under: John Edwards, Politics, Wealth distribution, Liberalism, Worldview

Been on the road working a lot this week. This is a great article in World Magazine about John Edwards. It exposes the extreme hypocrisy that follows Edwards wherever he goes and sheds a brighter light on the tartuffery of a staple issue of the Democrat party, wealth distribution.

John Edwards is heartbroken. That’s what he told the congregation at Riverside Church in Harlem, N.Y., during a recent Sunday morning service: “We have to break the silence about the extraordinarily deep divisions between the haves and the have-nots.”

Five hundred miles south, next to a modest auto shop off a short gravel driveway, Monty Johnson says the silence between him and Edwards is deafening. That’s ironic because the Democratic presidential candidate lives just across the street.

Johnson, 55, a retired farmer with arthritic knees, has lived in a simple home on Old Greensboro Road in the rolling countryside near Chapel Hill, N.C., all his life. Edwards and his wife Elizabeth bought 102 acres across the street in 2005, and last summer moved into their custom-built 28,000-square-foot estate, valued at $6 million.

The Edwards estate isn’t visible from the street, but county tax records reveal details of a lavish home belonging to the candidate who during the 2004 presidential campaign complained of “two Americas” under President Bush—one “that does the work, another that reaps the reward.” The main living section has five bedrooms, six-and-a-half baths, and a library. A heated, enclosed walkway valued at $192,664 connects the house to a second wing that includes a basketball court, a racquetball court, a pool, a lounge, and offices.

Johnson wouldn’t know about the house. In fact, he’s never met his neighbors. Only approved visitors to the estate enter the long, winding driveway flanked by “No Trespassing” signs nailed to trees. Johnson hasn’t been invited up, and though he sees the Edwards family drive by, they’ve never stopped to say hello.

Like a good neighbor…John Edwards is there. 🙂

It would be hard to forget where John Edwards came from. The former North Carolina senator made the story of his humble upbringing a major theme in his 2004 presidential campaign, constantly reminding audiences that he was “the son of a mill worker.” That thread is re-emerging in his 2008 presidential bid, and Edwards says his modest background drives his major campaign theme: helping the poor.

For Edwards, helping the poor hinges on expanding government programs and raising taxes. But his own rags-to-riches story doesn’t hinge on government intervention. Instead, like the story of Monty Johnson, it hinges on a strong family and hard work.

Though Edwards doesn’t talk much about his father’s work-driven rise to middle-class status—or his own work-driven rise to wealthy status—he does talk about something else he says motivates his emphasis on “eliminating poverty”: his faith.

Edwards declined several interview requests from WORLD, but in a recent interview with beliefnet.com, the candidate said Jesus would be “appalled” about the 37 million people living in poverty in America, noting the New Testament’s instruction to care for the poor: “And I think I as a Christian, and we as a nation, have a moral responsibility to do something about it.”

We agree, John, but your faith in action does not line up with what most Christians understand the Bible to say about helping the poor. Let’s not forget that Jesus also said, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:8).

In an interview on his website with Jim Wallis, Edwards called poverty-fighting “the Lord’s work,” adding, “our place is to lift up these people who God and Christ would have lifted up.” But if poverty-fighting is the Lord’s work, the government is the tool to accomplish it, according to Edwards. To that end, the candidate has unveiled a detailed plan that includes: raising the minimum wage, raising taxes to implement a universal health-care system that could cost $120 billion a year, and encouraging legislation to strengthen unions.

Instead of awarding school vouchers to allow families with children to choose schools for themselves, including private ones, Edwards proposes creating 1 million new housing vouchers to pay for families to move to neighborhoods with the public schools of their choice.

All the while, Edwards seems to acknowledge that private groups are better at fighting poverty than the government. He’s touted the work of teen pregnancy centers, private charities, youth baseball coaches, and one-on-one mentors.

Edwards has also acknowledged the indispensable role of churches in helping the needy. “There are a lot of places in America, that without faith-based groups there is no support for the poor,” he told beliefnet.com. “And the poor would not survive without the existence of good, effective faith-based organizations.”

Edwards calls his vision of government programs for the poor the out-working of his faith, but the candidate is less clear about the inner workings of his faith. Edwards grew up in a church-going, Southern Baptist home, but drifted away from the church in college. He says his faith came “roaring back” after the tragic death of his 16-year-old son, Wade, in 1996. He also credits faith in coping with his wife’s cancer, which has recently recurred.

But while Edwards often talks about his Southern Baptist upbringing, he talks little about his current church involvement. He has attended United Methodist churches in the past, but a spokeswoman for Edwards said she doesn’t know what church he currently attends.

So, John was a lukewarm Christian for nearly 20 years, experiences a tragedy, and comes roaring back. Great. If that were true, as any Christian would know, he would not be able to contain himself from gleefully pronouncing what Jesus means to him. Are Christians supposed to judge other Christians? As long as we don’t condemn them, certainly. And Christians should especially judge one who is running for President. Here are a few examples of what a Christian who came “roaring back” would NOT say or do:

1.) After Edwards’ defeat in his bid for the vice presidency in 2004, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that Edwards said he wished he had been able to talk more about his faith during the campaign. So he asked Edwards: “What do you want people to know about your relationship with God?” Edwards replied: “My faith is an enormous part of my life, and this is part of who I am. But I don’t believe the answer for us going forward is to invoke the Lord’s name 55 times in a speech.”

2.) Edwards’ religious views came under scrutiny in February when he refused to fire from his campaign two bloggers with a history of viciously offensive writings about Christians. Among other things, Amanda Marcotte had used foul, explicit language to ask what would have happened if the Virgin Mary had used so-called emergency contraceptives. Campaign co
-worker Melissa McEwan called President Bush’s conservative Christian supporters his “wingnut Christofascist base.”

Though the bloggers eventually resigned on their own, Edwards defended his decision not to fire them. He said he was “personally offended” by the bloggers’ comments, but believed they didn’t mean to denigrate a particular religion.

3.) Less than a month later, when conservative Ann Coulter foolishly alluded to Edwards as a “faggot” during a speech, the candidate’s response was different: “The kind of hateful language she used has no place in political debate or our society at large. I believe it is our moral responsibility to speak out against that kind of bigotry and prejudice every time we encounter it.”

Edwards’ campaign website prominently displayed the video of Coulter’s speech, with the headline: “Shame on you, Ann Coulter.” The web page asked visitors to “help us raise $100,000 in Coulter Cash” to “fight back against the politics of bigotry.”

Side note: Edwards has said he doesn’t believe homosexuality is a sin, and he favors “civil unions” for same-sex couples. He also says he would repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays. Prominent leaders of the homosexual community have endorsed his candidacy.

More red flags.

In the meantime, back in Chapel Hill, Monty Johnson will be tending to his garden. Johnson says he’s still willing to meet the elusive Edwards, who recently told a crowd in nearby Greensboro that politicians “need to get out here in the real world and find out how it really is.”

Why don’t you start across the street from your own house, John.

As a person, John believes faith is paramount in helping the poor. But in his career, he believes it’s government that can help the best. This is what I call a “Christian split personality.” Rudy Giuliani has the same disorder when it comes to abortion (personally opposes it, but doesn’t think government has the right to outlaw it).

Edwards’ disorder is common among Christians who have been spoon-fed a diet of weak Christianity and are ill-prepared to defend their faith. A healthy Christian personality (true Christian worldview) does not separate faith from works. Nor does it box God out of government. It recognizes that God is the source of life and our rights and instructs Christians and the church to take responsibility for the poor.

God never instructed government or individuals in government to use government for the purpose of helping the poor. He knew that such action would result in trapping the poor in their condition in exchange for votes, which is precisely what Edwards and the entire Democrat party have done.

The church has not amply performed the work God instructed them to do and liberals seized an opportunity to lock in some votes. Neither are excused. It’s up to Christians to take responsibility by helping the poor and when Christians like John Edwards use government for their own selfish reasons, it holds everyone back. But he can’t hold God back. He’ll have His way one day. Hopefully it won’t come to that for Edwards to realize how hypocritical his life is.

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