Ben Buchwalter


Where Did the Poor Go?
October 30, 2008, 9:15 pm
Filed under: 2008 Election, Economy | Tags: , ,

Another of Nielsen’s Blogs, Nielsen Wire, shows that Obama’s “infomercial” had a huge impact on the Primetime TV crowd last night. A few thoughts.

I thought that Obama’s infomercial was pretty good. I definitely felt inspired at times when he was talking about his general message and some of the vignettes about the regular working Americans worked well. In addition to targeting working class Americans in middle America, they were just interesting stories about people that I don’t hear much here in Philadelphia. I think that the infomercial did no harm and was just pretty good. I mean, if you have tons of money to waste, it was a good way to do it.

I did start thinking, though, about what it means that we are so obsessed with working class Americans. The middle class is VERY important and I’m obviously not saying that we need to be paying more attention to the most wealthy of us. But what happened to the extremely poor?

Though I wasn’t around for it, I get the feeling that Robert F. Kennedy’s Poverty Tour was focused on those who truly needed more help from the government in order to survive. The same is true for the welfare program, which has been reformed so many times that it barely exists today. Now we have the Earned Income Tax Credit program, which provides (not enough) funds for people who earn low wages, but almost nothing for those who just don’t work. But we aren’t talking about those people. Voters are not interested in helping out the extremely poor, whether they are homeless or mentally unstable or both. Voters are more accepting, though, of government programs that help the middle class, many of whom have lost jobs or are losing jobs because of the deindustrialization of the past few decades.

I am not saying that candidates should abandon the middle class in favor of the extremely poor. But it has become a foregone conclusion at this point that the election is a referendum on the economy. So let’s put the middle class and the extremely poor front and center and think about solving the economic woes for both of these groups.

Focusing only on the middle class while wiping the problem of homelessness under the rug indicates the cynicism of American candidates who will only adopt policies that benefit large voting blocks. In this election, that means working class voters are coddled to the detriment of those who are even poorer.

Barack’s infomercial definitely made a play for working class white Americans. But I’d like to see some acknowledgement of the poor as well.

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

What about the rich? they have a tough time too, trying to hold all to all that dough.

But seriously, I think politicians don’t talk much about the poor because the truly poor probably don’t vote, or contribute to campaigns, and well they just aren’t appealing (like that erudite, darling Joe the Plumber). Harry the Homeless does not make you feel warm and fuzzy, and you do not ant to identify with him.

Comment by lisabu

I agree that thats the reason. But its a pretty cynical approach to government. Was it always like that?

Comment by Ben

The voice of the poor died with the reputation of John Edwards. Plus poor people don’t vote.

Comment by Eric

beeeeen – u are a genius

Comment by katia




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