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Edwards' populist platform

June 03, 2007

Re "Edwards' populism is a risky bet," May 28

I am amazed by the illogical logic and myths propagated by the mainstream media. One of the more ridiculous myths: Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is tough on terror. If memory serves, 9/11 was a disaster in New York. Using this logic, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin should be tough on weather. If you live in a hurricane area, Nagin is your guy.

Now The Times perpetuates the myth that a self-made rich man, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, cannot represent the poor and the middle class. So what's the other option? Only a poor man can represent the poor?

SAL LOCURTO

Los Angeles

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In November, candidates who ran on populist platforms did quite well. Democrat Jon Tester won his U.S. Senate race in Montana. Ditto for Jim Webb in Virginia. These states are among the most conservative in the nation. Wages are way behind productivity, even for those with a college degree. Many Americans must work two jobs just to make ends meet. More than 40 million lack health insurance. Soaring gas prices are putting a major-league hurt on the working class and poor.

Any Democratic candidate who speaks to these issues with passion and clarity will do just fine, whoever he or she is. Who would be alienated? As best I can see, only those who've been benefiting from the status quo.

STEVE VARALYAY

Torrance

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I find Edwards' focus on ending poverty a noble yet impractical goal facing a host of obstacles. In fact, I see people who oppose this focus using the following arguments: that eliminating poverty would harm our national security (by making a military life less financially attractive), raise unemployment (by reducing the need for police, prisons, anti-poverty programs, slumlords, etc.) and negatively affect hope in the hereafter (by making people more hopeful of the here-and-now).

However, the biggest arguments and obstacles to eliminating poverty will probably not be mentioned, namely that people will not yield power and status to elevate those beneath them, and there are far too many people making money by keeping people poor.

DAN GERSTEN

Agoura Hills

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Re " 'Poor' John Edwards," Opinion, May 29

What a quandary. I'm confronted with whether to believe that a millionaire former personal injury attorney could find fulfillment in championing the poor and powerless, or to accept that a nepotism beneficiary like Jonah Goldberg has any journalistic talent beyond his penchant for name-calling. I'm going with Edwards on this one.

BLAISE JACKSON

Escondido

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Before Edwards came on the presidential scene, the word "poverty" had nearly disappeared from the political lexicon.

Edwards should be commended for his work on poverty. What Goldberg doesn't say is that Edwards helped repair the homes of low-income survivors of Hurricane Katrina, recently spent the day with low-wage income earners and is the only candidate with a plan for ending poverty.

Those of us who work on poverty issues every day are thankful for all the help we can get, regardless of the socioeconomic status of our champions.

SUSIE SHANNON

Executive director

Poverty Matters

Los Angeles

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