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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at John Edwards – D – OUT

September 18, 2007

It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. The eleventh part of The Drinking Bird’s sixteen part series.

Gentlemen John Edwards, former North Carolina Senator and current Drinking Bird neighbor (kinda, he lives in Chapel Hill and the wife and I did see him at an Italian restaurant in Durham once) is the undeniable number three in the Democratic polls, usually between 15-20%. I will say this, there does seem to be a real hierarchy among the Democratic candidates that does not exist at all among the Republicans, it has been a ton easier to order the Dems as opposed to the Reps. But finally, finally I’m among the real contenders where things straighten out. The next 6 single-issue voters will profile those who will likely be there in the bitter end, whether it’s whom I want to be there or not (Viva Kucinich!).

Johnny has a mixed record on environmental issues, as evidenced by his mere 63% rating by the League of Conservation Voters. This is somewhat misleading, as many of his gaffes took place early in his Senate career when he was likely hanging around with that shady energy crowd who convinced him to vote yes on such bills as one allowing mountaintop removal mining and one supporting nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, Nv. He’s since come around on those issues and you know what they say, there’s no zealot like a convert. Who “they” are is not clear, however. Environmental issues were simply not a priority for new Senator Edwards, and certainly not in the face of his jobs creation programs that swept him into office.

Edwards still places an great deal of importance on job creation and the economy, but he doesn’t see it conflicting with his environmental and bird-related commitments. He cites recovery of tourism money and jobs as a great incentive to fight the acid rain crisis in western North Carolina, which has done much damage to the forests in the Appalachians, home to a great many nesting boreal species such as Saw-whet Owl and Red Crossbill that reach their southern limit in the high elevations of the Smokies. Between acid rain and Southern Pine Beetles a good portion of the native pine forests ecosystem is in danger, though mountain-top removal mining is a great deal worse. Edwards places a great deal of emphasis on ethanol and biofuel in his energy policy, a decision that I’ve questioned in other candidates for its failure to address consumption as the root problem and its rather disastrous habitat-loss implications rather then looking for a more forward-thinking fix.

Edwards doesn’t really have any new ideas with regards to the bird-issues. Between a milquetoast approach towards environmental awareness and a rather poor environmental voting record, I can’t say I’m terribly impressed with his platforms. He would likely be leaps and bounds better than the current White House occupant, but pales in comparison with his party colleagues.

Next: GOP backwards is pog, remember pogs?

Update 1/30/08 – Edwards is out, and before Gravel even.


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