Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

A Reminder This Thanksgiving That Charity is Not Enough

Thursday, November 27, 2014


NY Times contributing writer Tom Edsall has a new column worth reading this Thanksgiving morning, examining the recent mid-term election results and the changing demographics that will impact presidential politics in 2016.  In looking at the future of the Democratic Party he concludes: “Unless the Democrats develop a coherent, comprehensive strategy for the have-nots, it won’t matter whether the party’s nominee is Clinton, Webb or anyone else.”
            Edsall quotes potential presidential candidate Jim Webb on how poverty and lack of opportunity signal our having “drifted to the fringes of the very inequality our Constitution was meant to prevent.”  And while Edsall focused on the Democrats, the broader point is applicable to all Americans regardless of political party.
There is always a lot of commentary around Thanksgiving about counting our blessings and remembering those less fortunate. Usually it’s in the form of an appeal for increased charity.  But Edsall’s column is a kind of wake-up call that public policy must change to effectively address poverty on the scale that it exists, and that if doesn’t, the “have-nots” may at long last evolve from charitable cause to transformative political force.  For those of us with much to be grateful for this holiday season, it’s another reminder that more charity, though necessary and good, is not enough.