By now, just about everyone knows John Edwards has suspended his campaign for POTUS.   I am very proud of John, and since dozens of volunteers went around to obtain signatures to put his name on the ballot in IL, I will continue to vote for him anyway.  Follow me under the fold as to why I believe my vote and yours will count regardless for this fine progressive on February 5th.  

On Wednesday afternoon, I received an e-mail from John, which  mirrored his message in NOLA.

Dear Benny,

Let me start by saying, “Thank you.” You have stood with Elizabeth and me throughout this campaign. Your support has sustained us as we have traveled across this country.

Earlier today, I suspended my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. I made this announcement from where our journey began just over 12 months ago: New Orleans.

I began my presidential campaign in New Orleans to remind the country that all of us — as citizens and as a government — have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters.

Now, it’s time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to the White House — but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history.

And, along the way, all of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause, I am asking you to continue speaking out for those who have no voice, just as Elizabeth and I will continue to do. We need you.

Do not turn away from the great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what’s possible, because it’s time for all of us — all of us together — to make the two Americas one. We need you.

I hope you will take a few moments to listen to the video clip of my speech in New Orleans earlier this afternoon or to read it below.

In the meantime, Elizabeth and my family join me in thanking all of you for your support and for working so hard on my behalf. We are truly blessed to have such friends.

Here’s the video:

Now, listen to his words.  He is still fighting for the voiceless–those working poor–and don’t often vote at the voting booth.  Edwards was begged by a homeless woman who was under a bridge in NOLA to stay warm, “please don’t forget us.”  

He understood the reality of the media brownout and how there are dreams for an African-American or woman POTUS when he said,

Now, it’s time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path.

But I am not forgetting his cause for speaking for the voiceless. In June 2006, when he was director of the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill, he went to different cities, including Chicago, to try to find solutions to the problem of the working poor.   By chance, I learned he was stopping in Central Illinois to visit some old friends.  I e-mailed the online communications director at the One America site to see if I could meet with John Edwards for a few minutes, and he made it happen.

For 10-15 minutes, he listened to my story about growing up in a working class/working poor family, and how my mother was “lost in the wilderness” for years.  (my personal story is diaried at MyDD)

I supported him because I know what it is like to be in a home that had eggs and toast for dinner many times when I was growing up.  He grew up in a similar home, although his family was a hell of a lot stronger than mine.  I always admired that aspect of him, as it transferred to an adult John Edwards and having a strong woman, Elizabeth, for his partner.

I can walk away from my past.  And at times, I look back and think of could have been.  Today, I look back and think of what could have been with a President Edwards.  But he is a pragmatist, and he loves our country more than anything else.   I cannot walk away for his cause to end poverty.

To this end, I will hold the remaining opponents accountable when they pledged to make poverty a central part of their campaigns and if one of them makes it to the WH, to continue to end poverty in his/her administration.

But for now, I vote for him on February 5th, and I vote for the cause.  The cause to end poverty, to obtain universal health care, and because of his leadership on most of the things we care about.

And in case you are wondering, the delegates he has gathered are going nowhere since he didn’t officially withdraw from the race.  Thus, he could potentially still gather more delegates if people still voted for him.  (same is true for the other candidates if they officially suspended their campaigns).

I am aware that your Democratic senator has endorsed Obama, and I wouldn’t try to persuade anyone who supports Obama to vote for John Edwards.  

But I ask you to continue the fight for more progressive causes.   Thus, voting for John Edwards is voting for the cause of the voiceless to be heard.