Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested Monday that a “physical revolution” like the one growing on the religious left could help overcome Republican opposition to left-leaning poverty initiatives.
The 76-year-old Biden, a former senator from Delaware, was the first of nine 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to speak at a presidential forum hosted by the Poor People’s Campaign during the three-day Poor People’s Moral Action Congress held at Trinity Washington University.
Hundreds of activists and clergy from all 50 states gathered in the nation’s capital for what they say is a “call for moral revival,” focusing on issues of poverty, climate change, voter suppression, wealth inequality and access to health care.
“For too many years, [the narrative] of what’s happened is that with great income inequality, what’s happened is the charlatans have been able to pit white folks against white folks and white folks against Latinos, et cetera. Because if you have a problem, it is the [fault of the] other,” Biden told the crowd.
“Look at what is happening now, the reason [some will say] why poor folks are poor is because of all those immigrants, all those Muslims, all those African-Americans. It’s a bunch of malarkey.”
Biden praised the Poor People’s Campaign for “picking up where it was left off by Dr. [Martin Luther] King” and for exposing the “exploitation” by those in power to get underserved populations to blame others for financial troubles.
“The exploitation is more extreme than it has ever been because of the gigantic income inequality that exists in America,” Biden stressed. “It is bigger than any time since the turn of the last century.”
The current iteration of the Poor People’s Campaign, which takes the same name as the one launched in the 1960s by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was launched in 2018. It claims to be nonpartisan and connects thousands of interfaith religious leaders, activists, organizations, and persons impacted by poverty.
The campaign is co-chaired by Disciples of Christ pastor and NAACP civil rights activist Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis, founder of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.
Barber and Theoharis were highly critical during the event of what they called heretical white “Christian nationalism” and policies passed by the Trump administration that they say make issues worse for impoverished communities.
The former vice president, who served under President Barack Obama, also appeared to slam Trump administration policies.
Without getting specific, he told the hundreds gathered in the university’s gymnasium that it is “ridiculous” that there are policies in place that he says discriminate against and devalue “black people, native Americans, people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers” at a time when there are “deep inequities” in society.
Biden argued that it is in the best interest of “everybody” to bring people out of poverty and move them “into a place where they are able to compete” through access to housing, education and health care.
“It benefits the whole nation,” Biden contended. “We have to stop letting these guys use the divisions that exist in the country, like charlatans always do, to divide the country.”
Biden indicated his support for things such as a $15 minimum wage, making sure that everyone in the U.S. has access to Medicaid, increasing Title I spending for underprivileged schools from $15 billion to $45 billion per year.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith