One of the biggest lies about poverty in our country is this: We don’t know what to do to dramatically reduce it.
The truth is, there is no shortage of excellent plans, great scholars, and people living in poverty who can tell you exactly what we need to do—we just elect too many political leaders who don’t give a damn.
This Election Day, you have the power to move our nation towards doing right by people in poverty. Before you touch the screen, pull the lever, or fill out your ballot, here are some questions you might ask yourself to determine the hearts and minds of your candidates:
Does your candidate push stereotypes and myths about people living in poverty and anti-poverty policies, or does s/he stick to the facts?
Does s/he know that nearly 40 percent of us will spend at least one year in poverty during our working years?
Does your candidate conflate poverty and race, in a manner that stereotypes people of color as poor and urban?
Does s/he speak to the fact that the average food stamp benefit (SNAP) is just $1.41 per person, per meal; only 1 in 4 households that qualify for federal rental assistance actually receives it; and only 23 of every 100 families with children in poverty receives cash assistance (TANF)?
Does s/he fight to protect and strengthen the safety net, recognizing that poverty would be twice as high today—approaching 30 percent—without it?
Does your candidate accept a status quo that keeps people in poverty? Or do they embrace policies that work?
Does s/he want to raise the minimum wage so that it can lift a family of three out of poverty (just as it could in the late-1960s)?