October 12, 2004

How dare John Edwards bring up meth labs on the campaign trail?

Methamphetamine abuse and meth labs are on John Edwards' radar:

"“Methamphetamine has become a cancer in rural areas and small towns in this country,” Edwards said in a conference call with reporters immediately after a campaign rally yesterday."

"Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards called meth "this poison" during an Aug. 16 campaign stop in Greene County, where more than 40 labs have been taken down this year. "The spread of this has just been deadly out in rural communities and small towns," Edwards said, adding that meth is a growing problem in his home state, North Carolina. "We have to have a commitment as a nation to do something about it."

Talk Left thinks that talk about meth labs doesn't belong in a presidential campaign, and gets it exactly wrong. The comments section sets a few things right. In addition, there were two meth labs investigated in 2004 and six in 2003 in Commerce City, Colorado, where Edwards is having his town hall meeting today. Commerce City is a working-class town of 30,000 that's also home to a meth lab clean-up company and who knows how many active meth users.

Maybe it's a class thing, or an urban vs. rural thing; it might be hard to see through the smog from the 17th storey of a Denver office tower, but meth is as big a problem in Talk Left's backyard as it is in the rest of the West, the Midwest, and the South. Why not see it as a national problem in a presidential campaign? If one's advocating a better life for those of us out in the country, why not acknowledge how destructive meth and meth dealers are to rural communities, and speak to how you're going to address the problem? Edwards has tried to, and good on him for it.

While there's been little said about meth in the national campaigns, Republicans and Democrats from states like mine seem to get it: "Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican whose state ranks No. 1 in busts of makeshift methamphetamine labs, calls peddlers of the highly addictive drug "domestic terrorists." Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa says voters in Midwestern presidential battlegrounds are more likely to encounter a meth maker than an operative for al-Qaida."