Larry Kudlow
John Kerry?s choice of North Carolina Senator John Edwards as his running mate sets in motion a classic economic-populist, class-warfare, trade-protectionism assault on the free-market principles that have made the American economy the most prosperous of any industrialized nation over the past 25 years.

Edwards may be an attractive personality and an effective communicator, but on policy substance -- namely torts, trade, and taxes -- he?s resoundingly anti-growth and prosperity. (Just like Kerry.)

In a January primary speech in Des Moines, Edwards said, ?There are two Americas -- one for the powerful insiders, and another for everyone else.? This became his signature line. He would also say, ?One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants -- even a Congress and a president.?

Or a political party. After all, with Edwards -- the tort bar?s man in Washington -- on the ticket, the takeover of the Democratic party by the 60,000 member Association of Trial Lawyers of America is now complete.

Trial lawyers are clever and crafty -- make no mistake about it. Through aggressive venue shopping, tort lawyers like Edwards bring national cases to favored local courts and squeeze out ridiculous settlements, making millions for their firms and frequently providing little or nothing to consumers.

Here?s but one infamous case: In a settlement of a class-action suit filed in Texas against the Blockbuster movie-rental company, plaintiff lawyers received $9.25 million while each class-action member received two coupons for movie rentals and one $1 off coupon. The case was about late movie return charges. The lawyers made enough money to produce their own movie, but Blockbuster customers couldn?t even use their coupons to buy a bag of popcorn. Their coupons were for non-food items.

Edwards is also on the wrong side of the fence on trade. He is a devout protectionist. During the Iowa primary debate last January he proclaimed, ?I didn?t vote for NAFTA. I campaigned against NAFTA. I voted against the Chilean trade agreement, against the Caribbean trade agreement, and against the Singapore trade agreement.?

Both Edwards and Kerry (the latter now saying he will vote against NAFTA should it come up again) are more than happy to buck the world tide and go it alone on trade -- even though steep tariffs will hurt ordinary Americans who shop low-cost imports at the giant chain stores. By protecting a small handful of unionized and inefficient companies in North Carolina and elsewhere, trade protectionism undermines the living standards of the near 135 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy.

Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.