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Union Leader - John Edwards: America Rising

Op-Ed

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By JOHN EDWARDS
Commentary
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007

WE ARE at a crucial moment in our nation's history. For the last seven years, the Bush administration has lied to the American people, abandoned the middle class in favor of wealthy special interests, undermined our Constitution and destroyed our alliances and relationships around the world.

Despite all of this, the American people are just as goodhearted, patriotic, and hard-working as ever. The fundamental goodness of the American people gives me great confidence and optimism that America will rise from this dark period, just as we have countless other times in the past when things looked bleak.

The American people are ready for a government that looks out for all people, not only the wealthy and that tells the truth all the time, not only when it is convenient. And Americans are ready for a government that never stops striving to be better and fighting for our nation to rise ever higher. In short, we are ready for a government that truly represents the character and spirit of our people.

Throughout this campaign, I have proposed aggressive, detailed and comprehensive proposals that will help America rise. My proposal to halt global warming will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 80 percent by 2050, it will also create over 1 million new jobs -- jobs that will stay right here in America.

I've proposed a detailed plan to help middle class families achieve the American dream by making college more affordable and helping families save for retirement. As President, I'll create Universal Retirement Accounts that people can take from job to job, protect pensions, and crack down on predatory lenders that are threatening to put millions of families on the streets.

I was the first candidate to propose a truly universal health care plan, and I'm proud that other candidates have followed my lead. My plan will cover every single man, woman and child, bring down health care premiums while improving the quality of care, and make prescription drugs more affordable.

I've also outlined my approach to restore America's image in the world and to begin to rebuild the alliances and friendships we've destroyed over the last seven years. It begins by ending the war in Iraq -- no combat troops, no combat missions, no more war.

But here's the truth: these ideas don't mean a thing and aren't worth any more than a piece of paper unless we have a President who will spend every moment of every day fighting for the people that make this country great.

Every time we speak out for the 47 million Americans who have no health care, America rises. Every time we speak out for the 35 million Americans who went hungry last year, America rises. And when we all speak out together and demand change, America will rise again to be that shining light, a country that truly represents the greatness of our people again.

I know exactly what makes this country great. I saw it in the faces of the men and women who worked in the rural mill towns where I grew up. I've seen it in the workers who lost their jobs in Berlin and Groveton, the older Americans living on a fixed income in Claremont and in the young families in Portsmouth who are worried about health care and how they'll pay for college. And I see it every day in the faces of people of all colors, classes and creeds across this country who yearn for our nation to rise again, to be what we all know we can be.

This is what makes our nation great. This is what gives me great hope that we will leave this darkness behind. And this is why I know that working together, America will rise again.


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