Every time I mention John Edwards, I feel the need to preface my remarks by saying that he’s probably not the candidate I would suppport for the Democratic nomination. That said, I think his intention to make poverty prevention a central focus of his work is an important one. It’s also telling how people responded to it in 2004:
As he sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2004 and later as John Kerry’s running mate, John Edwards talked about poverty more than any other candidate.
But when he spoke on the campaign trail about what he referred to as the “two Americas,” he told a conference on poverty here this week, “people called it a downer.”
One of the issues that has consistently disappointed me in the Democratic Party has been their failure to address issues of poverty, because those aren’t perceived as political winners. As the gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans grows, and as the impacts are being seen more prominently in the middle class, it’s critical that the political leaders who represent ‘the left’ in the United States treat the continued existence of poverty in this country as one of the most important issues. Poverty impacts education, health care, economic competitiveness, just to name a few issues–it might be depressing to talk about, but we (as liberals) must continue to fight against it, and against government policies that make it worse.