With insight and humor, David K. Beckwith recommends that John Edwards, being sincere about his vision and wanting to reduce the numbers in poverty, should
"...entertain the possibility that one might educate those who are not actually impoverished, that there is no wrong in having just enough, and that it can be argued that it may well be the preferred state. Aside from Taoists and Buddhists teachings, once can reach into Christianity, the sermons of Eckhart on Poverty, for example, to show that less is indeed more…in other words, isolate out those who truly need help, and focus on them first and foremost. Too often, the aid only goes to agencies and sinecures and amanuenses, whose condition, though banal, is far from dire.
Additionally, and similarly, he might apply the same sermons and principles to the billionaires of our day, who need money like they need a supererogatory cranial ingress, or more commonly, a hole in the head."
In a Salon article by Peter Dizikes, one of Edwards' unique political advantages is laid out:
Edwards is in the most unusual position of all the potential Democratic hopefuls: Outside of the formal structure of his own party, unable to burnish his political resumé by conventional means, and unable to use political office to gain media attention.
He describes Edwards' current approach to the social values and ethics-aspect of issues that he once blanketed simply as "moral causes":
"..instead of just dubbing certain issues moral causes, as Edwards did last year, he is now basing his claims on some first principles. Work, Edwards claims, is not just an economic abstraction but an inherently social activity. Work is how people provide for their families and, in many cases, define their civic participation."
In America, we cannot succeed unless we work together. A team falls apart when its members' individual interests override the greater good of the team's goal. When this occurs, you can believe that achieving a strong, free nation with a healthy democracy is easily forgotten. On any team, you must have a goal. True patriotism means staying involved as a team member, setting aside excessive self-interest for the good of the team, and having an open government which facilitates citizen participation. Without the team and consideration of all its members, you lose freedom, opportunity, legal protections, and worst of all - you lose sight of your goal. It seems we've lost sight of many of our goals in the past few years, and the slow-killing of social democracy and further enriching, through policy reform, of the already-wealthy by the Bush administration has clearly been a driving force in the loss of American achievement, opportunity, and equality.
"The truth is nobody earns his or her money alone," Edwards said at the New School. "They earn it thanks to America. They earn it because America protects private property, enforces contracts, and yes, punishes torts ... So nobody goes it alone, and everybody has a responsibility to help everybody get ahead." We are, Edwards wants Americans to remember, in this together. If you don't accept that point, Edwards claims, you do not understand American history....."
Dizikes quotes Edwards on the stereotypes that exist, used often by the Right to blur the lines and diminish support for government aid for those living in real and inescapable poverty. The recently passed Bankruptcy Bill was a glaring example of how Republicans (and a few from the Democratic party) have lost touch with the reality of the economic situation of many common American citizens.
Unlike [Former President Bill] Clinton, Edwards seems eager to combat age-old shibboleths abetting conservative ideology -- like the myth that poor people are lazy, and thus not morally worthy of help. At Harvard Edwards described a meeting with poor families where he was struck by "how hard people wanted to work and how much they wanted to take care of their families. I know there's a stereotype that exists out there, but a lot of people who live in poverty don't fit that model."
In the latest Harpers magazine, Gordon Bigelow discussed the evangelical roots of economics, describing economics, when channeled by media and politics, as the "cosmology and theodicy of our contemporary culture." He describes early "faith-based initiatives" in British economic policy, where evangelical Anglicans did not understand poverty as a problem to be fixed, but instead saw it as a spiritual condition. The workhouses of Dickens' day were not supposed to help children prepare for life - they were supposed to save their souls. When I read Edwards' quote from the Salon article, it reminded me of the old workhouse theory, which is frighteningly espoused, in nature, by the GOP's recent attempts to cut off the checks and balances necessary to maintain a balanced independent Judiciary and to sandwich religious intolerance into their reform policies:
"All of us know the Bible says the poor will always be with us, and some people use that as an excuse to do nothing,"
Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
I've heard nothing in the media about it. Only in Bushworld would citizens not be going crazy with anger after seeing, in black and white, that the Bush administration massaged the intelligence like you would push 500 pounds of bread dough into a sandwich-sized ziploc baggie.
At the One America website, Cate Edwards has blogged about a new organization which was started by Adrian and Devin Talbott after the last election. It's called Generation Engage, and it is a non-partisan group geared towards getting young people involved in the world of politics. Generation Engage allows its members to become a part of something bigger, a national movement of engaged young people committed to ensuring that their voices are heard. Young people have been unable to unite or coalesce behind a single issue or organization, as other age groups and demographics have. Generation Engage hopes to create a network that defines itself by inclusion, a community that welcomes and joins all young people in a national political discourse.