Campaign for Community Change

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Missing from the Campaign Trail: Empathy


Logan M

In an election year driven by money, the portion of our population that truly needs help is being utterly ignored. Those at the top are attempting to buy the election for a leader they know will protect their wealth, while the middle-class, the champions of change for decades, is now facing its own plethora of problems in the wake of a floundering economy, rendering those at the bottom vulnerable and without a voice.
According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, close to 16 percent of Americans now live at or below the poverty line: $23,000 a year for a family of four. And it’s estimated that the number of Americans living in poverty will increase to 15.7 percent this year, the highest level in 50 years.
Politicians have ignored what has caused this massive increase in poverty: the flood of low-wage jobs. According to an article published by National Public Radio, one half of all jobs in the U.S. today now pay less than $35,000 a year.
And then there’s the stereotype that poor people are just lazy or living off government handouts, when in reality, these people are struggling to make ends meet by working a series of low-paying jobs.
What’s missing in the discussion is empathy. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a multi-millionaire, has made his campaign all about protecting the wealth of his constituents. He wants to cut programs that would help people climb out of poverty.
People who live close to or below the poverty line need a leader who will advocate for them. Politicians talk nonstop about how bad our economy is, but no one is offering to help those really affected by it.
“You won't hear a robocall, watch a television ad or read a campaign flier that mentions the issue, much less proposes ways to fight poverty” says one op-ed examining the issue.
What GOP leaders need to do is read the new paper called “Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All.” Yale Professors Jacob Hacker and Nathaniel Loewentheil argue that the only path to sustainable long-term growth is through an economy in which the benefits of growth are broadly shared. Prosperity economics depends on what they call the three pillars of prosperity: growth, security and democracy.
Prosperity Economics argues that current austerity policies have failed and are holding back growth and increasing inequality in the United States. The paper calls on the federal government to step into the fray and start rebuilding the American dream and lays out policy recommendations and political reforms that will achieve this long-term goal.
The full report is available at