Marches on US main streets center poor voters' demands ahead of midterms
Less than a month before Election Day, low-income people and allies came together across the United States on Saturday as part of a get-out-the-vote push by the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
The campaign aims to reach at least five million people by the midterm elections next month, spreading the word that "if we ever needed to vote for democracy and justice, we sure do need to vote now!" However, the effort also has a message for politicians.
"If you don't have living wages, if you don't have healthcare for all, if you don't protect the environment, if you don't have voting rights, you have an impoverished democracy," said campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber of Repairers of the Breach ahead of Saturday's actions.
"In these midterms, poor and low-wealth people are going to demand with their votes that their issues are addressed by elected officials," Barber added. "They are going to vote like our democracy depends on it and will have a major influence on the election."
Demonstrations were planned for Washington, D.C. and cities in over a dozen states including Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
Along with marches at noon local time, the Poor People's Campaign held a virtual rally at 6:00 PM ET.
The November election will determine whether Democrats—whose legislative agenda has been partly held up for the past two years by narrow majorities, disagreements within the party, and the Senate filibuster rule that gives the GOP veto power over most bills—can keep control of Congress for the remainder of President Joe Biden's first term.
"The priorities of poor and low-income people are on the ballot this election—from healthcare to living wages to social programs that lift the load of poverty and much more," stressed camapign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.
Rev. Kazimir Brown of Repairers of the Breach asserted that "the nation needs policies and politicians that center the needs of poor and low-wealth people," adding that "too many people are hurting and dying because of immoral policies."
Marchers and supporters of the national mobilization shared updates on social media with the hashtag #OurVotesAreDemands.
While 58 million low-income Americans participated in the 2020 presidential election, more than 80 million were eligible to do so—meaning that over 20 million more people could be voting," according to a report released last year by the campaign. The marchers hope to motivate some of those nonvoters.
"Poverty is a policy choice,” said Kait Ziegler of Repairers of the Breach. "And inhumane policies are being created and upheld by elected leaders who have lost their moral conscience. On this national day of action we are marching across dozens of main streets to collectively declare that our votes are not support but instead are demands."
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