Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Poverty? What's that?

John Edwards is seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency. He's a modern populist whose consistent message is that poverty is a problem in this nation. He talks about issues of economic and social class and he offers up real solutions to the growing divide between the wealthy and poor in America.

Edwards is not afraid to outline his policies with specifics and details. He calls for better labor laws, meaningful childcare assistance for the working poor, preschool for the nation's children, greater worker safety laws, credit and saving opportunities for the nation's workforce, and an end to the predatory lending practices of credit card companies. He calls for programs to promote family literacy and good parenting and nutrition help for young children. He has a real program for universal healthcare. There's a lot more on his website. More than any other candidate in this race, Democrat or Republican, Edwards has been willing to outline specific plans to solve national problems. He's not afraid to try innovative ideas; he recognizes that some ideas will not succeed. But he proposes that failure will teach us how to get policies that will succeed. He's bold and thoughtful.

And nobody really seems to give a damn.

It's not that Americans deny the problems of the poor or even that Americans deny that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. But lack of denial is not the same thing as agreeing that we must do something about the problem. That is a step this nation isn't particularly willing to take. And so Edwards speaks eloquently about the problems of poverty and opportunity in the United States. People listen and nod and smile politely. But they don't plan to do anything about the problem.

The bottom line for the Edwards campaign is that his message isn't getting traction. Until or unless it does, he won't get the Democratic nomination. That's a shame because John Edwards has something very important to say. And we need to listen.


JaneDoe, Extraordinaire! said...

I agree with you 100%! Every day I work with children who live in poverty. Many of them live in one-room shacks and the only meal they get all day is the free lunch provided by the school.

So many of my kids walk around school for weeks at a time complaining about their tooth aches because they have a bad cavity but no money to go to the dentist.

I have so many students who feel that they have no future because they have no monetary means. For the most part my students go unnoticed by society at large. When I tell people about the kids I teach they don't believe that kind of life still exists in America, but it does.

I wish people would open their eyes and ears! Sorry for the rant, but thanks for bringing up the subject.

Ingrid said...

Yes, I agree with your post as well. Living in Texas, sometimes it frightens me how dismissive of the problem people can be here, as if it's the poor people's fault that they are poor. And I don't see that only in wealthy people, what shocks me is how many middle class Americans are resentful of the poor and portray them as greedy and abusive of the system. As if there was that much of a divide between them.

Individualism in this country is sometimes out of control. We could all benefit from a sense of responsibility towards our community as a whole. But somehow this is seen as a bad thing.