John McCain: John Edwards Redux?

In case you haven’t been paying attention because you were to busy trying to figure out who the Democratic presidential nominee is going to be, the presumptive Republican nominee is on a mission, apparently, to reach out to America’s poor and disenfranchised. Yes, you heard me right; John McCain is on a “poverty tour” that will be stopping in a town near you this week, trying to convince Americans that he can play the part of John Edwards too.

He began the tour in Selma, Alabama, the home of many historic moments from the Civil Rights Movement, trying to convince his mostly white audience (Selma is 70 percent black) that the party of Lincoln does care about black people – really.


"There must be no forgotten places in America, whether they have been ignored for long years by the sins of indifference and injustice, or have been left behind as the world grew smaller and more economically interdependent," McCain said outside the St. James Hotel, several hundred yards away from the historic bridge. [He is referring to Emdund Pettus Bridge, where the “Bloody Sunday” attacks occurred in 1965]

"In America, we have always believed that if the day was a disappointment, we would win tomorrow. That's what John Lewis believed when he marched across this bridge," McCain said.

While it sounds noble to "care" about people of color and low income communites and their current plights in American society, if McCain really wants to reach out to black folks, why doesn’t he put out an extensive urban policy? I went to his website today, and I don’t see anything about what he will do to alleviate the root causes of problems minorities and low income communities face in the inner city, such as crime and the war on drugs. The only thing that comes close is his position on “poverty” is on public education. But even here, he doesn’t come out explicitly against “No Child Left Behind,” which has had an opposite effect on minority students by most accounts.

Also, what is he going to do to provide more summer jobs for inner city youth? Giving kids jobs in the summer time has always been a good way to get them off the street and do something productive with their time, instead of hanging out on a street corner doing God knows what. With the high rate of gang violence so far this year, especially in cities like Philadelphia and Chicago, street violence will only get worse without more summer jobs.

From The Wall Street Journal:

After sinking to a new low in 2007, teen summer employment is expected to fall again, to the lowest rate in the 60-year history of government jobs data. Working teens ages 16 to 19 will slide to 34% of the population, from 34.5% last year, predicts Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. That's down from 45% in 2000 and a high of 48.5% in 1989.

My point here is that if McCain is really serious about reaching out to people of color, he needs to look at issues that affect them today, and recognize that there are still issues that weren’t resolved during the Civil Rights Movement. Not only would he have an advantage over the two candidates who seem to spend their time these days fighting over petty comments and American flag lapel pins, but maybe, just maybe, the Republicans can look like they are doing the right thing for once.

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