Now is the Time:
Forward Together to the Midterm Election
by Dorothy Van Soest on behalf of the WA Poor People’s Campaign coordinating committee
On June 18, 2022, in Washington, DC and virtually across the country, we witnessed the largest gathering of poor and low-income people and their allies in our country’s history (Poor Peoples Campaign, June 18, 2022). A large representation from Washington state (poor people, low wage workers, moral allies, activists, faith leaders, mobilizing partners, and folks across all lines of division) was there to demand a Third Reconstruction for our country and a reconstitution of our nation’s priorities.
People from over forty states told their stories about loved ones unnecessarily lost to COVID—children lost to gun violence, suicide, pain and killing drugs—those surviving without resources to grow and thrive—formerly incarcerated denied dignity, jobs, voting rights—immigrants and asylum seekers humiliated, shackled with ankle monitoring bracelets—workers fighting for fair wages and union representation—people denied food, health care, shelter, jobs, decent wages, education. Their voices merged into one resounding declaration:
We are here, we are poor, we have come together
and we will stay together until we transform this nation from the bottom up.
We declare that the source of solutions to our country’s most pressing problems lies in our lived experience and leadership.
We will not be silenced and we will not be unheard!
“At the rally we declared that we are in a time of emergency. Our democracy threatened by coordinated assaults on the right to vote and women’s right to health care. More than 140 million people being poor and low income. Seven hundred dying every day (250,000 a year) from poverty. Millions living homeless in a nation with five abandoned houses for every homeless person. Child tax credits being cut and allowing families to not have food when we throw out more food than it takes to feed every hungry person in the world. Eighty-seven million people before the pandemic uninsured and underinsured, tens of millions added when people lost jobs and health during the health crisis.” (Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, speaking at the Memorial Service on June 17, 2022).
Our current crises are rooted in the myth of scarcity, demanding that we ask, “who we are willing to exclude?” The PPC’s answer is simple and clear:
Everybody in! Nobody out! We need a Third Reconstruction to build a nation that lifts from the bottom, starting with the 140 million poor and low-income people, and everybody will rise.
- We are in a time of emergency. Our democracy is threatened. We know how many days there from now to the last day of the mid-term elections on November 8th and that on the ballot there are 469 seats in Congress—34 in the Senate and 435 in the House. The Washington Poor Peoples Campaign stands together with over sixty mobilizing partners in our state, including WWFOR, and acting together with the PPC campaigns in over forty states across the country to use our full power to force this democracy to reckon with the plight of its people. To that purpose:
- We demand that every member of Congress publicly acknowledge the reality and pain of 140 million poor and low wealth people – including 43 % of our entire population and 52% of our children, who died at a rate 2 to 5 times higher during this pandemic.
- We demand every member of Congress commit to creating and supporting legislation that reflects the Third Reconstruction Agenda developed by poor and low wage communities. No action that is available to this Congress to relieve this injury and protect our democracy should be taken off the table – no matter how close we are to an election.
- We demand a White House Poverty Summit with President Biden to allow this administration to meet with a delegation of poor and low-wealth people, religious leaders, and economists and to commit to an Executive Action Plan to Eliminate Poverty in 2022.
- We declare that this Campaign will engage in massive mobilization and outreach through every means available to us – by visits, letters, petitions, candidate forums, and phone calls – advocating for our current representatives to take action now to address the needs of poor and low wealth people in this country.
- We pledge to return and bring these demands to Washington D.C. in September 2022 with 5,000 poor and low-wealth people and religious leaders, along with 100 economists in nonviolent moral direct action.
- We launch a nationwide effort to register and educate poor and low-income communities to vote in every election for candidates who commit to a Third Reconstruction Agenda to address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up.
- We declare that we are a movement that votes. We call on all poor and low-wealth people to march in mass assembly from here to the polls; use your vote to make your voices heard!
Now is the time to fight with every tool we have to ensure no voice is excluded, no vote denied, no cry for justice unrepresented. Now is the time to build a Third Reconstruction. Join us. www.poorpeoplescampaign.org