stephanie jones

Social Class and Campaign Politics

In politics, poverty, social class on June 22, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Education, Iraq, climate change, health care, the economy. These are all important issues in the upcoming presidential campaign, and what do they have in common? Class. The lived realities of social class impact, and are impacted by, these major campaign talking points. It seems that John Edwards is using social class (or rather, poverty) as a hub to organize the issues most important to his campaign whereas class (or poverty) is positioned more peripherally by others’ platforms.

Though I have not made a decision about which candidate I would like to see in the big game, I did find today’s Brian Lehrer show (WNYC) intriguing.

When asked about Welfare Reform and what was right and wrong about the policies leading to the end of welfare, Edwards restructured his response to talk about what is still wrong: folks are struggling to make ends meet. Whether they’re receiving government support or whether they are out working full-time, poor people living lives as, according to Edwards, “second-rate citizens,” and in a country where citizens are valued, this is simply unacceptable.

Edwards refers to Jason DeParle’s book American Dream a read that taught me a lot about the history of health care and welfare in the U.S. And though Edwards states that the economy will be stronger if poverty is eradicated in the United States (by means of, among other things, new and stronger unions, universal health care, and stronger education – whatever that might be) , he argues that the most important reason folks should be driven to work toward ending poverty is that it is the moral thing to do.

Will middle-class, upper middle-class, and the ultra-affluent vote to challenge poverty head-on because it’s the right thing to do? I wish that I thought I lived in a country where that would happen…

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