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Edwards on Poverty, Dems and Restoring America

Excerpts from a Daily Kos and BOP News posting:

"Senator Edwards is preaching religion, and the text of his sermon at the Kennedy School of Government on Wednesday the 13th of April, was poverty in America, and most specifically poverty among those who work, and the threat of poverty for those who are one accident away from the tender mercies of the new bankruptcy bill. His message was that the Democratic Party has stood specifically for two important principles: first raising the respect of work and the fortunes of working Americans is the most powerful force against poverty, and second that the Democratic Party has battled poverty, specifically and constantly through out its history, and is a moral obligation to fight poverty in America and around the world.

As a Democrat whose stances have grown increasingly progressive, what he found was that across America there are people who are working hard, but for whom the system is hardly working. He found that the programs that we have to lift people out of poverty work, but that more must be done.

His response is one that should be recognizable to Democrats: for the system to work, government must work, people must work, and there must be work for them. He looks at it from a visceral and emotional standpoint, one that uses the language of biblical morality. He found that people in the cities had the same problems as the rural areas he grew up in, he shared with the audience his memories of how he nearly became a statistic because of poverty and pressures.

This moral response allowed authenticity to be at the core of how he speaks of poverty - he has faced it, and believes that poverty is a crushing force - poverty, not only of material things, but poverty of spirit. And because of this he was there to issue a call to arms for the younger generation to fight poverty and exclusion in America - because in his travels he had seen that the same pressures he felt as a child, are being layered on people by where they were born, and by race and ethnicity. He pointed out that the average net wealth of African American and Latino families in the US is 1/10 of the average white family, but that in rural areas, the levels of white poverty resemble those of urban poverty.

This moral response lead him to refer back to FDR, not in the technocratic sense, but in the same way that made FDR say that his philosophy was to be "a Christian and a Democrat".

Video of the event (Real format) is here.
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