Wednesday, August 22, 2007


[Written February 2, 2007 on W9]

Maybe John Edwards and I are of OneMind, after all?

Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I reviewed the YouTube videos of John's DNC speech. Paid close attention to his remarks on healthcare and poverty. And heard myself talking back.

Nope. No tongue in cheek this time!

Last weekend [February 2, 2007] was the first and formal unveiling of John's stump speech on healthcare and poverty. Followed by his interview with Tim Russert on "Meet The Press," where John shared more specifics.

Sixteen months ago [October 2005], two fellow broadcasters (Paul Aaron and Ian Kleinfeld) and I aired a four-part radio series, on John's home-town community radio (WCOM 103.5LPFM), on what it might take to alleviate the immediate symptoms of poverty in the US.

We came up with FOCUS On Poverty, a $200 billion a year program to ensure that every man, woman and child in the United States has access to adequate food, clothing, housing and healthcare.

We very specifically excluded education, feeling it should be considered separately - as John has done.

The first program in the series dealt with our general progressive principles, by way of context.

The second program dealt with the specifics of FOCUS On Poverty - and please, I took enough stick from kid sister about FOCUS not being a precise anagram!

In the third program, we had a professor of economics from the University of North Carolina join us, to discuss our proposals as to how FOCUS On Poverty could be funded.

And the fourth program in the series dealt with what language could be used to 'sell' FOCUS to an electorate, which (pre-2006) we felt might still be in a tax-cutting rather than a tax-raising mood.

Our proposals, our costings and even the language all appeared in John's pronouncements on the subjects of poverty and healthcare.

Right down to borrowing back George Bush's 'no-one should be left behind' tag line, and the emphasis on children - hey, we may be progressive, but we know the power of a marketing message!

Frankly, I'm delighted!

Of course, I don't know for sure that John or his staff ever listened to our radio show - which is not that outlandish a suggestion, bearing in mind WCOM broadcasts where he and we all live, and the fact we informed him, OneAmerica and the UNC Center for Poverty of our four-part series.

And it may well be that they came up with their almost-identical proposals quite independently of us.

What I do know for certain, however, is that we devised our program independently of them.

And that none of them spoke then or have spoken since then (in public) about anything that faintly resembles FOCUS On Poverty - until John spoke this past weekend.

Indeed, a professor of sociology at Duke University (I apologize to fellow Tar Heels for letting those words pass my lips...!) declared that we would have to do all the work of devising the specifics of FOCUS On Poverty and its costings, on our own, because he was unaware of anyone else approaching poverty in the US in this manner.

Whatever the case, who cares? I say again - I'm delighted!

All I care about is that we elect in 2008 a President who agrees that the single most important priority facing him (or her!) is the need to ensure that not one single child goes to sleep at night in America without food, clothing, housing and healthcare.

The 'how we got here' ain't important.

All this episode proves, at the very least, is that a group of progressive-thinking minds, living just a few minutes away from each other, all had the same great idea at the same time. Says wonders for the fresh air in North Carolina!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Watch9 - OneAmerica = FOCUS '08

My interest in blogging began with watch on the ninth, which I created to help keep John Edwards' 2008 Presidential Campaign, OneAmerica, on message about helping to alleviate poverty in the US.

I had developed my own ideas in that latter regard with a four-part series on John's and my local community radio station, WCOM 103.5 FM, back in October 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

My co-hosts and I 'designed' an off-the-cuff program that would focus on addressing the symptoms of poverty, rather than just the causes.

Much was being done by others to look at how to eliminate poverty in the US over a 30-year timespan. But too little was being suggested about how to help ameloriate the immediate pain.

We came up with FOCUS On Poverty: the notion that every man, woman and child in the US should have access to adequate food, clothing, housing and healthcare. Now. Not in 30 years time.

John's campaign settled into a seemingly tranquil third place in Democratic polls in about June of 2008.

I was concerned that, whoever might eventually be the Democratic nominee, the issue of poverty, and specifically FOCUS, be on as many different agendas as possible in 2008 and beyond.

And so, FOCUS On Poverty 2008, the blog and the campaign, was born.

I set out above some of the original posts from watch on the ninth. Then I turn to the nitty-gritty of trying to focus the nation's attention on FOCUS On Poverty, in the run-up to the elections of 2008.

Don't just read and digest. Lend a helping hand. There is something you can do. And there is always time to do it.