With Election Day looming, political rhetoric is picking up its pace across the country, with candidates praising the “American Dream” and the “land of opportunity”—but many more Americans live in poverty today than in 1968. Even more distressing, 30,000 children die each day of preventable causes around the world, and millions go to bed hungry. As Christians, we are called to respond to the people behind these statistics.
The contradiction between election rhetoric and reality gives us a key opportunity to do just that. Elections give citizens the chance to leverage real commitments from political candidates—commitments to specific anti-poverty targets and proven strategies. And history shows us that a determined, steady, and well-organized constituency can hold elected officials accountable to promises that are made.
Too often, we let this opportunity pass us by. But this election season, a common call against national and global poverty is growing across the religious and secular anti-poverty community, including Catholic Charities, Christian Churches Together, and the Center for American Progress.
Sojourners’ contribution is the Vote Out Poverty campaign, which seeks to empower Christians with practical, effective strategies. Our goal is simple: We want a national plan from the president and Congress to cut domestic poverty in half over the next decade and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of international goals for reducing global poverty.
The Vote Out Poverty campaign has two parts. First, in the months before the election, it is about educating voters in the faith community about the biblical imperative to consider the welfare of all people when casting their vote in November—to “vote through the lens of the poor.” Those educated voters will ask candidates to sign pledges affirming that, if elected, they will work to accomplish specific anti-poverty goals.