in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Eliminate the link between politics and money
From: Perry L., Devils Lake, ND
I have worked in the field of poverty reduction through the Community Action Network for more than 34 years, and in my observations, eliminating the link between money and politics is the only answer. To have an open, honest, truthful and productive discussion about what causes poverty, people who finance election campaigns need to be part of the discussion, but not have veto power over whether the discussion happens or not. If national and statewide elected officials have to raise huge sums of money to seek re-election, that reduces their ability to focus on the needs of the nation or state. This lack of time and the need for daily fundraising allows lobbyists to gain greater influence over the governmental decision making process at the expense of almost everyone else impacted by the actual decision being made.
Almost every issue of national significance that would positively impact those who live daily in poverty has been decided based on some political calculation that benefits those most involved in financing political campaigns. The recent Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission may have created a situation where those with the power (i.e., campaign resources) can have even more influence on the governmental decision making process.
Eliminating abject poverty is well within the grasp of this country. If the relationship between money and our political process is not changed, however, although there may be some things that can be done, ultimately we are dealing with various forms of income redistribution. And those with the highest incomes, the individuals that strategically finance political campaigns, will increasingly use our broken political process to insure that poverty remains a constant within our society. The Bible says the poor will always be with us. As a country, we continue to do everything possible to make sure that statement remains eternally true.