Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney and Obama on Poverty

I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but I finally watched the videos that President Obama and Governor Romney made addressing questions from the Circle of Protection on what they are/will be doing to help the poorest citizens of the United States.

I'll confess that I decided who I'm voting for a while back, and so I do watch these videos through something of a biased lens.

That being said, I wasn't terribly impressed with either of the candidates' responses. There was little more than the talking points of their respective campaigns, with a little more faith lingo and less attacking built in.

I can understand why both these men would choose to give such bland responses. They're in the midst of a very close race, and both are by nature cautious and eager to avoid any missteps that could be used against them.

The sad reality is that poverty is not an issue that gets a whole lot of traction in our political discourse. Even in a time when more and more people in our country are finding themselves in poverty, the issue does little to "move the needle" in opinion polls other than when it is used as a talking point about deficit reduction.

While I believe that government does have a role to play in alleviating poverty, since government is one avenue for us to express our values and commitments as a society, the church, nonprofit, and individuals also have an important role to play, because those avenues facilitate relationship building and not just the allocation of resources.

I won't be holding my breath for these or any presidential candidates in the near future to have much of substance to say on poverty, but I am glad that groups like Sojourners and Circle of Protection keep our elected officials feet "to the fire". Perhaps our collective efforts will one day truly sink in and meaningful, effective policy reform will happen.

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