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Friday, August 22, 2003

Gary Hart's got a blog
Here's his latest post:

When was the last time you heard political leaders discussing poor people or the system of poverty in America? And would that silence have anything to do with the fact that poor people don’t vote—let alone contribute money? The last national candidate to link the fate of blue and pink collar working people with the plight of the poor was Robert Kennedy, and he is remembered as both a tough politician and saintly hero for doing so.
The subject comes to mind when “leaders” say: “I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal.” The only way that shibboleth makes any sense at all is if you define “social” as abortion, gun control, and prayer in schools. But we used to define “social” as the problems of our society—poverty, hunger, illiteracy, homelessness, joblessness, the lonely aged, and on and on. If you use the word “social” in this sense, the sense in which it traditionally is used, you cannot be “a fiscal conservative and a social liberal” for the very obvious reason that it costs some money to help those in need.
The political spectrum is pretty well defined by the orthodox Right on one end and “centrist” Democrats on the other. “Centrists” are particularly fond of the “fiscal conservative but social liberal” formula because it conveniently permits you to work both sides of the street without defining what you are for beyond “work, family, and responsibility.” (I’m still looking for someone against those things.)
So what does it say about early 21st century America when the boom of the 1990s created great wealth, the tax cuts of the 1980s and early 21st century concentrate more wealth at the top, the middle class is stagnant in terms of real wages and incomes, and 20% of America’s children are in or very near poverty? Makes you proud of your country, doesn’t it?
Since most of the Democratic Congressional candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, I guess no one will ask the obvious question: How many of our fellow Americans could we have helped with the $200 to $400 billion Iraq will cost us? How much better a country could we have been? Most importantly, What is it about the Iraqi people that makes them so much more deserving of help than poor Americans? Why are conservatives eager to rebuild Iraq and not to rebuild America?
This is not an isolationist point of view. This is not a “liberal” point of view. This is a common sense point of view.
I sure would like to hear Robert Kennedy on this issue.

(Great post, Gary, but you could have mentioned which candidates voted which way: Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt for the war, Kucinich and Graham against. And both Kucinich and Graham are asking the obvious question. (Graham's quote. ))