Saturday, May 17, 2008

Half in Ten: Why My Mom Loved Edwards

My mom liked Edwards a lot. She appreciated his focus on poverty. My aunt, her sister, favors and admires Edwards too.

So of course I thought of both my mother and my aunt when Edwards launched his poverty campaign Half in Ten, the goal of which is to reduce poverty in the US by 50% in 10 years. Edwards is working with representatives of the community organizing group ACORN, the Center for American Progress, Coalition on Human Needs, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

The goal of the campaign is to:
  1. Elevate and sustain a focus on the situations facing the poor and middle class today
  2. Build and strengthen an effective constituency to demand legislative action on poverty and economic mobility
  3. Advance specific legislative and policy proposals that will deliver real benefits to struggling American families
Peter Drier, over at The Huffington Post, notes the near entire media black out on the effort in his essay, Edwards Poverty Campaign Met With Media Blackout, which goes right to the campaign's first goal.

Drier relays some important facts that need highlighting:
Few media stories point out that among the world's affluent nations (primarily Canada, Japan, Australia, and the countries of Western Europe), the U.S. has the highest poverty rate (more than twice that of many European countries) and by far the widest gap between the rich and poor.
And my mother would have admired this:

When he announced his campaign for president, he did so in an impoverished area of New Orleans, a neighborhood hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. During his presidential campaign, which ended nearly four months ago, he tried to shine a spotlight on poverty. As one of the leading candidates for his party's nomination, Edwards was able in July to get reporters to follow him on a three-day, eight-state, 1,800-mile poverty tour that included stops in New Orleans, Kentucky, Mississippi, Cleveland and elsewhere.

Many of the stories that came out of that tour focused on the human side of poverty, and on the candidate's policy ideas. But others reflected journalistic cynicism, viewing Edwards' anti-poverty crusade as simply a political gambit to grab attention. They failed to mention that none of the eight states on Edwards' poverty tour were among the key early primary states that would make or break his bid for the White House.
So, it's with interest I saw this over at Talking Points Memo's Election Central: Edwards Secured Private Commitment From Obama That He'd Go On Poverty Tour as Nominee
"Edwards was trying to think of ways to specifically hold them accountable," said another former top Edwards adviser. "It's easy for a Democrat to say, `Sure, I'll make poverty central to my campaign.' A poverty tour was something he felt would be really powerful with the spotlight of the general election, and it was a tangible, real thing he could ask them to commit to."


Another of the advisers said that Edwards had secured a commitment that he'd accompany the tour. "It was a specific number of days on the road together, putting poverty front and center -- it would be with him," this adviser said. "He got them both to agree to this. He was really excited."
Yes, their estimation seems warranted. This guy is committed. Such a tour with Obama could generate needed media attention.

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