Sunday, August 26, 2012

Who will speak out on behalf of the voiceless?

Imagine the 1968 campaign without a mention of Vietnam or civil rights. Or the 1976 post-Watergate election without a discussion of campaign finance reform. Or 1980’s race’s between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan not focusing on the energy crisis of the Iran hostage situation. It’s hard to think of a presidential election in which the great crises of that particular time was met with silence and played no part of the campaign.

That’s what came to mind in listening to Bill Moyers most recent commentary in which he begins “It’s just astonishing how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what’s happening to poor people.” Moyers remains one of the few journalists committed to speaking truth to power about the failure to seriously address poverty in the United States. His commentary can be seen @

With 46 million Americans on food stamps for the first time in the history of the country, just a symptom of the crushing poverty that is afflicting so many, not to mention record levels of 22% child poverty, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have shown the slightest inclination to take this issue head-on. Even more remarkably, there has been very little pressure on them to do so.

Why? Because the historic economic inequality that characterizes and divides America in 2012 has been both consequence and cause of increased political inequality. The voiceless are even more so. Extraordinarily wealthy donors have greater influence on the agenda of the campaign. And journalism, under extraordinary financial pressure in a rapidly evolving industry, is more sensitive to ratings and the desires of advertisers than ever before.

What can be done about all this? Not clear. But as Moyers points out, everyone who can speak out should speak out. And if enough of us do maybe politicians will begin to lead instead of follow. Maybe our fellow citizens will see themselves as part of a whole, rather than just a precious, narrow interest. Maybe the body politic will give voice to the children who can’t give to SuperPacs or hire lobbyists, to need as well as to privilege, to the least heard among us who just happen to be our future.

That’s one of the reasons we are launching a new public radio show to shine a spotlight on issues and solutions too often ignored by the mainstream media. Join us today @

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