More Poor People’s Campaign

IssueOctober - November 2018
News by PN

Following a massive wave of civil disobedience in May–June which led to 2,500 arrests (see PN 2620–2621), the new Poor People’s Campaign in the US has committed to a voter registration campaign in over 40 states.

Without endorsing particular candidates, the aim is to make poor people a significant force in the mid-term elections on 6 November. That’s when all members of the house of representatives, a third of senators, most governors and many local officials across the US will be voted in.

Reverend William Barber and Dr Liz Theoharis, co-chairs of the campaign, wrote in the Guardian that the Poor People’s Campaign was not a single-issue project focused on a particular election: ‘We’re building deep infrastructure in the states to fight for long-term change.’

Thousands of volunteers are working not just to register poor voters, but to educate and organise them.

Subsidising the rich

A volunteer in Louisiana, Matthew Isac, told a local TV station that one major issue for the campaign is the growing wealth gap between the working class and corporations: ‘If you put in 40 hours of your time in work, and work productively and work hard and earnestly and loyally, you should at least be able to at least afford a place to live and food to eat. You shouldn’t have to go on food stamps [welfare benefits] when you have a job.’

Isac went on to explain that you qualify for food stamps even if you have a full-time job, if you’re paid on the minimum wage in Louisiana, $7.50 an hour. ‘So, an employer who is hiring people at $7.50 an hour is essentially asking the public to subsidise their corporation,’ Isac said.

Nonviolence week

Another US nonviolence project is ‘Campaign Nonviolence’, an annual week of action organised by Pace e Bene, the Catholic peace group.

In this, the fifth year of the campaign, Campaign Nonviolence ran from 15–23 September and involved over 2,000 actions. There was also a ‘National Convergence’ in Washington DC: a gathering, a silent march and some arrestable action.

Campaign Nonviolence involves action for peace, economic equality, racial justice and environmental healing – ‘and for a new spirit of truth and nonviolence’.