Monday, November 19, 2007

power to the people (who need it most)

I often wonder what might happen if all the working poor, impoverished and homeless men and women in our country decided to back a candidate and use their voting power. Some of us have tried to harness this energy in the past, bringing polling places to shelters and holding voter registration meetings. But what I haven't yet been able to do is bring a candidate to the people, my offers to host a debate or a speaking engagement have fallen on deaf ears in campaigns past.

When I ask the folks on the street why they do or do not vote the answer is simple: they've been so marginalized and are so desperately living hand to mouth it's difficult to mobilize beyond a given day. Especially if it feels hopeless.

That's why I think it's critical this year that we reach these constituents and show them hope is alive. That there are candidates who want to improve the quality of life for those below the poverty line. Edwards professes this hope and has taken this message across America. But I often wonder if he is still missing the audience who needs to hear it most, the ones hardest to reach yet who have so much to say.

I invite John and Elizabeth Edwards (and all the candidates for that matter) to hold a town hall meeting inside a homeless shelter, one open and welcoming to the homeless and impoverished communities so they too can lend their voices and their votes. Candidates are forced to focus on raising funds for their campaign, an obviously important goal and yet one that can sadly exclude those who cannot afford the entrance fee and once again, their voices are lost. And what a shame, considering you'd get some of the most honest questions you could hope for, ones that aren't shiny and policy wonked, ones that come from the heart and where the stakes are high. We could all learn from those who are actually living the issues we are trying to fix.

I recently asked an old-timer if he was following the presidential races. He looked at me and laughed and shook his head. Don't have much reason to think those folks care what I have to say or will work hard for us anyways, can't see how it matters much to me.

Let's show him and so many others that this time is different. this year there is a reason to believe. That there is a candidate ready and willing to fight for the alleviation of suffering. If you could make time for us Senator Edwards, I'll promise you a packed house.

Cross posted at MOMocrats.

28 comments:

flutter said...

it would be fascinating to see if any of them would take you up on that, jen.

Family Adventure said...

A-men.

Heidi

hele said...

I am going outside right now and will send a prayer up into the wide blue sky that this wonderful vision becomes true.

I have no doubt that you hold the power the change the world.

kiki said...

power to the people, truly. how my heart would soar if this could happen - sometimes i feel the same way.

Emily R said...

If I may, could we extend the invitation to all of them? Because, you know, I am sure they are just waiting for the invitation.

Seriously, it is a wonderful idea, but the cynic in me imagines they won't care. I really, really hope they prove me wrong.

Suz said...

It's a wonderful idea, and I hope that someone takes you up on it.

slouching mom said...

i hope he comes. i really, really do. i believe you are right to single him out -- he's the one most likely to accept your challenge.

Julie Pippert said...

AMEN, Jen.

This is a big part of what I was trying to say in my post from yesterday.

As one commenter said, the people with access to politicians aren't talking about issues that I have because well, they have the money and therefore lack the issues (such as health care and choice in education).

Angela at mommbytes has a great chart up that shows domestic issues are really our biggest threats.

But what's the buzzword with the candidates? The top thing they discuss?

I'll stop now but could just go on and on.

great post.

Julie
Using My Words

Christine said...

i so want this to happen. it should happen. but i don't have much faith. it is sad to live like that, faithless.

thailandchani said...

It would be nice, however unlikely. It's a good thought. Perhaps it will happen but I just don't believe it. Sorry to say....

Mad Hatter said...

I hope you have sent this invitation via snail mail as well, although, from what I hear, Elizabeth Edwards is blog savvy.

PunditMom said...

This is an AMAZING idea!

Jennifer said...

This really should happen. It should.

Cecilieaux said...

E-mail me and we can strategize a little. It would be really, really worthwhile to do something like this.

Cecilieaux

Shavings Off My Mind

PS: Follow up on your last -- I'm turning the tables on you -- what should the rest of us (the great unwashed who do not regularly provide services to needy people, even if we know the statistics) do upon coming across someone like your older lady? I mean, you've got something like a doctorate in experience on helping, what helps, what doesn't, etc. Teach us, please.

Beck said...

I hope this happens....

Janet said...

Wouldn't it be great if he proved that old timer wrong?

liv said...

I hope John and Elizabeth will do it. Someone needs to give the marginalized hope and reason to believe that people do care.

Professor J said...

What a great idea! I really hope it happens.

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh, Jen! That's a WONDERFUL idea!

BOSSY said...

Here, here - those candidates are always pitching to the Middlings.

we_be_toys said...

Ah if only they would listen...

carrie said...

You are right Jen, oh so right.

Candidates seem to reach out to groups of people whose voices aren't heard, but I haven't ever heard of them addressing the homeless as a valuable voting entity. And they should.

Watching the Dem. Debate last week, at least gives me hope that of all of them, Edwards could pull this off.

Amy Y said...

I agree...
Hope he shows, Jen!

Laurie said...

Great idea, Jen! We did something like it with the Northern Cheyenne Indian tribe here in Montana. We went to their reservation and registered nearly a thousand of them to vote. We put together informational seminars and invited the candidates down to speak and be questioned. The voter turnout that year was the highest ever recorded in this county and a very good piece of environmental legislation was passed as a result!

mitzh said...

I hope he comes...

Kyla said...

I hope they come, jen. It would be amazing. (and mention healthcare while you've got his ear, LOL!)

crazymumma said...

Jen baby.

I love that you still have faith in the political system. Wish I did. I hate politics. I really do. But I love that you have faith. I really do.

May it trickle down. No.

May it trickle up.

Ally said...

Well said, Jen, and I hope you're following up with an email or letter to the Edwards' campaign to solidify this invitation. I'd love to hear the response.