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 (or any candidate 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. That 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 one plus two.