What Would Elizabeth Do?

Thu, April 26, 2007


(Cross-posted from The Soccer Mom Vote)
Elizabeth Edwards and the return of her breast cancer have gotten more than their fair share of media coverage.

But the piece that really struck me was the interview of Edwards conducted by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, who has also battled cancer.

Many who have no right to have an opinion on the matter have been critical of Elizabeth Edwards’ decision to remain in the campaign and encourage her husband to continue his quest for the White House, even as she battles her cancer. After reading Alter’s interview with her, I have come to the conclusion that it is Elizabeth Edwards who, under other circumstances, ought to be running for president.

Cancer doesn’t just change one’s health, it changes outlooks and makes people more honest and frank than they ever have been in their lives up until that moment. I saw it in my mother-in-law as she fought her ovarian cancer. I saw it in my best friend Marjorie as she battled her breast cancer. Alter’s interview lets that aspect of Edwards shine through:

Alter: Are you clear to say pretty much what you want–

Edwards: Because of the cancer?

Alter: Yeah.

Edwards: …. I am completely free to say whatever I want.

She’s determined not to have any regrets when it comes time to say goodbye to her family. So she’s saying what she wants and what she means. Why is it that we wait until a severe illness strikes to feel free to take such an honest and liberating approach to expressing our true convictions?

Can you imagine if we had presidential candidates who would do that? I’m not suggesting we need only those who have been diagnosed with cancer to run for higher office, but imagine what our country and society would look like if people peeled away the faux obligations, the political calculations and the donor expectations, and ran honestly and talked openly about what we all could do to make this country a better place not just for us but for our children and their children decades from now?

Instead, we have a group of people running (with a few exceptions) who are afraid to say what they truly feel and think for fear of alienating a big contributor or talking a dive in the next poll, candidates who are afraid that if they make one misstep a year and a half from Election Day 2008, they will lose votes. People who try to build a portrait of themselves that is false, but politically expedient. If those candidacies are built on such houses of cards, should we even be considering them?

If John Edwards really wants to be president, he will take a page from the book of Elizabeth Edwards and ask himself, “W.W.E.D?” She is the breath of fresh air I think our system has been needing for a long time.

I just hope and pray she will be with us long enough to let us see more of it so we can all benefit from it and maybe even demand more from those presidential hopefuls who are more worried about “truthiness” than what’s really important to voters or the real truth of what needs to be done for this country.

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7 Responses to “What Would Elizabeth Do?”

  1. the end of motherhood Says:

    I agree with all of what you say except the following: “many who have no right to have an opinion on the matter.” John Edwards is running for President. I think that gives all of us not only the right, maybe even the responsibility, to have an opinion on the choices he and his family make.

  2. SusieJ Says:

    Excellent points. The truth in a campaign — I can’t even imagine it. The real question how would the rest of the voters react to the truth — against all the other players who are still carrying out their own lies. We’re almost at the other voter’s mercy.

  3. FENICLE Says:

    I believe it is their choice as a family to do what they believe is best for them…so if running is it, than fine.

    I only pray that they took her cancer into deep consideration. Because I’m afraid a few years down the road when she could be sick (hopefully not) and unable to even play with her very young children, they’ll regret this choice.

    Maybe not?

  4. Queen of the Mayhem Says:

    Truth…..in politics?????

    YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! (hee-hee……that is my weak attempt at a Jack Nicholson impression)

    I do agree that people who choose to put themselves in the public eye, leave themselve open for scrutiny. But, she sounds like a lovely lady.

    I wouldn’t vote for her husband…but she sounds like a lovely lady! :)

  5. Amanda Says:

    This story just tortures me. I trust that they know what they are doing, and I think their decisions may just teach us all about living and acting as if today is our time. Our only time.

  6. Pendullum Says:

    Mrs. Edwards is a brave,courageous, strong woman… That being said I do not think that she is being truthful…as she is going to suffer… and there is no doubt her husband will as well…She has been through it before and she knows first hand. I can not see a campaign focussed when someone you love is going through such treatment. I do not see why they can not wait and focus on her… and then the next election, America will still be there waiting for them…

  7. crazymumma Says:

    I guess I am the only one, but on my old staggering along computer, your site is unreadable! It turns a deep quite beautiful purple. really. so strange. sorry….

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