Two candidates dropped out of the beauty pageant that is the race for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations today, leaving two major candidates on the Democratic side and two or three candidates on the G.O.P. side, depending on how seriously you take the candidacy of Mike Huckabee.
Rudi Giuliani left the G.O.P. race, a move that came as no surprise after his "all or nothing" strategy in Florida netted him exactly that. Nothing. It's hard to see how he and his gimmicky one-page tax form will be missed.
Equally unsurprising but ultimately more disappointing to me was the departure of John Edwards from the Democratic race. He likely had no chance to win the nomination, but I would have liked to have seen him stay in the race at least through Super Tuesday.
One reason I am sorry Edwards is leaving the race is that, for me, he embodied the spirit, the passion, and the memory of JFK and perhaps even more so of Robert Kennedy. His idealism and commitment to the poor certainly seemed to me to evoke Bobby's memory and the idea that once existed for many that America could be a great and compassionate country for all of it citizens, not merely those who could afford to buy a Senate or House seat.
Edwards seemed from my perspective to be the first candidate, at least on the Democratic side, to express actual ideas rather than talking in sound bites. His idea of creating a "green infrastructure" to both reduce our dependence on foreign oil and provide an economic boost through the new jobs such a philosophical shift would create was a marked departure from the same old "let's drill in Alaska" approach.
His notion of "one America", which perhaps an unattainable ideal, evoked the spirit of both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Moreso than any other candidate, his statements upheld the idea at the forefront of the Declaration of Independence that "all men", not merely those with power, connections, or money, "are created equal".
As the campaign progresses, I expect to draw upon the Declaration again to discuss the views of the different candidates. For now, I wish John Edwards and his valiant wife well. As he said in his announcement withdrawing from the race, "I'll be fine." As long as America has men and women like John Edwards to remind us of what we can and should aspire to, it will be fine as well.