Why Edwards dropped out

One of the big questions across the blogs yesterday in the wake of Edwards' exit from the race, was: Why? Why now? What made him change his mind when just the day before, in Tulsa and elsewhere, he vowed he was in for “the long haul”?

If there's one thing about John Edwards that is abundantly clear from his entire life, it's that he's not a quitter … so, then, why did he quit the race suddenly, before the one day that might possible turn the tide a little his way?

Well, of course none of us know the details of his thinking until and if he chooses to share them with us, but that doesn't stop folks like me from speculating, does it?

Naturally, the results of the first four state caucuses/primaries were significant indicators, though he thought the vast majority of Americans should have their chance to weigh in; I'm convinced he was very sincere in that commitment until this week.

Many have noted that he just couldn't get much attention in the corporate-owned media. True, that had to have been frustrating, and been wearing him down. Apparently it wore Elizabeth out, since after New Hampshire, she went home with the kids.

But I think when he saw the exit polls from South Carolina — and the opinion surveys from Super Tuesday states — he began to rethink his plan to stay in. He was very clearly getting much of his support from white men who did not want to vote for a woman or a black man.

At the top of his speech yesterday, he said it was time to “step aside so that history can blaze its path.” To me this spoke volumes. Each of his two major opponents, once elected, would break down a huge barrier to justice in this country. John Edwards is not a man who would want to be the catchall candidate for racists, sexists and every street corner Clinton basher and Hillary hater in America. He did not want this to tarnish his name or electoral legacy. And I don't blame him.

That's my theory, anyway. I'm sure the decision was a complicated one for a man, for a family, that is intelligent, empathetic and dedicated to their cause and country. But I think his inherent love of social justice just couldn't let him be the vessel for hatred, his political ambition be damned. In my opinion, he's the kind of man who would make that kind of selfless sacrifice.

If I'm right, then it's just more evidence that we haven't seen the last of John and Elizabeth Edwards on the national — even global — stage. They have bigger cause than their own careers or lives. Then they can serve without unwanted baggage they collected from those whose beliefs they do not share.

Then there won't be any need for JRE to get out of the way of history, because he (and Elizabeth) will be leading us to it from the front.

I look forward to that.

(Cross posted at Daily Kos.)