The Poor: America's Forgotten Swing Voters
Nearly 50 million Americans now are in poverty. One in four children will grow up in impoverished households. Redressing poverty is a national emergency and a moral imperative. In our money-drenched political debate, the poor receive little attention. Yet they could be the key swing vote in this election.
Democrats have historically been the advocates of the vulnerable.
I grew up in a struggling household, and I can tell you that for the poor, the middle class isn't the next step; it is a distant shore. The middle class seems rich -- two parents, good jobs with health-care benefits, homes, paid vacations, college educations. For the poor, the American Dream truly is a dream.
The poor live concentrated in urban areas or virtually invisible in rural counties. They live long distances from where the jobs are. They can't afford a car, so have the greatest stake in affordable public transportation. Their children suffer the highest infant mortality rates, the worst child malnutrition, so public health and child nutrition programs are invaluable. They go to the worst schools, often on mean streets in zones of violence and drugs, so aid to education ranks high on their priorities.
Because the poor tend not to vote, they are often ignored by political campaigns seeking to appeal to "likely voters." But this reality makes the poor potential swing voters. If they show up in large numbers, they can transform an election, particularly one like the current presidential race where there are few undecided voters left and the biggest question is who shows up to vote.
The battleground states of
I know this from personal experience. In 1984, my campaign for the presidency focused on reaching and registering poor and minority voters. In 1986, what one Southern Senator called the "new voter" transformed the electorate in
Jesus warned that we would be judged by how we treat the "least of these." Feeding the hungry is a moral imperative. But in a democracy, poor people are potentially rich voters. Their votes count as much as those of wealthy voters and there are many more poor people.
In a democracy, standing up for the poor is not only morally right, it can be politically powerful.
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The Poor: America's Forgotten Swing Voters | Politics
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