Edwards The Champion?

As expected, Senator John Edwards has jumped into the Presidential fray. Edwards, a millionaire trial lawyer has spoken numerous times about wanting to be "a champion for the people I have fought for all my life – regular people."

There’s something vaguely bothersome about that phrase, other than the fact that it’s obviously a focus-group tested soundbite. It cuts to the heart of one of the primary differences between conservatives and liberals in this country.

Edwards is stressing the liberal mantra – that government is the champion of the working classes and the "little guy". Certainly government has a role in society, but the line between "champion" and "nanny" is one that government seldom recognizes. When government exists under the notion that it’s out to save the nation from itself, it’s almost always the little people who end up getting the shaft. As my First Law of Public Policy states, any public policy will produce unpredicted side effects. The more altruistic or utopian the policy is, the worse those effects will be.

That’s why one should always be wary of anyone who claims that they really fight "for the little people". Unfortunately, that’s all Edwards has said so far. Granted, I don’t expect anyone to come right out of the gate with a conherent and concrete set of policies, but it would be nice to add some substance to the sound bites. He claims that the White House is serving the interests of the "insiders". If so, who would he have running the show? It’s the classic political conundrum: get elected by being an "outsider" but quickly realize that it’s the people on the inside who know how to make things work.

Edwards could be a strong contender in the race, but he’s going to need to hold up to his promise to respond to some tough questions rather than just asking them.

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