RE “Little mentioned on the trail, poverty widening in nation” (Page A1, Sept. 10): While the past four years, as your article indicates, have been largely devoid of talk about poverty by either party, even as it has risen to record levels, in the 2008 primary campaign the plight of the poor was a resonant issue.
Before his withdrawal from the race and ultimate self-destruction, John Edwards had made the case in his “two Americas” speeches for a focus on the poorest. So compelling and popular was his argument that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pledged to make poverty a priority if elected. Alas, as Cornel West and Tavis Smiley reminded us recently in their poverty bus tour, this was a promise not kept.
Future campaigners and crusaders should recognize one thing we’ve learned in the past 50 years — simply sustaining people in poverty, maintaining their benefits, is not enough. Initiatives to assist our poorest neighbors to move beyond poverty and dependence are the priority. And a good part of that focus for many, as our poor neighbors remind us, is that the best antipoverty program is a job.