“I vote Democrat,” said a friend a few years back, “because they (at least semantically) appear to focus on the marginalized in our society.” This is a big issue for people, especially people of faith. Jesus was ridiculed for spending time with the “prostitute” and the “sinner.” The book of James states: “27 True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties…” Heck, anybody would say that it’s good to do nice things for other people. It’s sort of the human way…right? So it would make sense that both political parties in this upcoming presidential election would highlight what could be done for the “least of these,” but that’s not always the case. My friend was right. Republicans don’t talk enough about issues of social justice…and that’s a shame.
My Republican friends (I’m a moderate Independent, btw…) would argue to me that, in fact, their party very much cares about what happens to the least of these. Recently a collection of religious heads petitioned the presidential candidates to outline what they would do to relieve poverty in America. To my excitement, both candidates posted a video response, including Governor Romney. This was the first time I’ve seen a Republican candidate talk about providing for impoverished people. His plan boils down to the philosophy that a healthy economy should allow less people to be in need and more people to have. My conservative friends shared this with me as well. Their premise is that people will be better assisted out of poverty if it came not from the generosity of the government, but from private sources. This approach on a cultural level was no more evident than when we visited our friends in Texas, a state with no state taxes and a reliance upon corporate charity.
Now here me on this. You may point to Texas’ inability to care for people effectively and you may disagree with the Republicans’ philosophy, but why are Democrats and Republicans not having this debate? Or more specifically, why are Republicans not arguing their philosophy on how to care for the oppressed and destitute? Because aside from the governor’s video, I find the topic lost in the fray.
BTW…Here’s the Obama response to the religious leaders’ question on poverty in America.