I’ve been trying to keep close tabs on what it going on with the race for the White House. I’m listening to what all of the candidates are saying. But, perhaps more importantly I’m listening for what they’re not saying.
For example –
This evening, almost as soon I turned on the television to watch the news, there was a video clip of Senator Clinton (D-NY) giving a pep talk to a crowd of her supporters. The clip was only a few seconds long, but she managed to ask four questions; three which caught my attention.
One of the questions she asked the crowd was if they were ready for a "no child left behind" program that "… really leaves no child behind."
She’s been saying that since the cows left the barn and still children are being left behind. But I’m thinking of a certain group of children in particular: the 1.35 million homeless children who call the streets of our nation’s streets home.
Is her question meant to imply that she intends to create legislation that will find a way of ensuring that all of our nation’s homeless children and their families are finally going to be housed? Or will her "no child left behind" programs be geared only to children who aren’t currently homeless?
If indeed she does get elected to the White House, unless she pours funding into creating ways of helping homeless families get of off the streets, then there are going to be plenty of children who will be left behind.
Another question she asked the crowd was if they were ready for "… health care for every American."
Hmmm. That may sound good in a speech, but when it comes down to the bottom line, I’m wondering if Senator Clinton’s "health care for every American" agenda will include the nation’s homeless?
"Poor health is closely associated with homelessness…
The rates of both chronic and acute health problems are extremely high among the homeless population. With the exception of obesity, strokes, and cancer, homeless people are far more likely to suffer from every category of chronic health problem. Conditions which require regular, uninterrupted treatment, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension, addictive disorders, and mental disorders, are extremely difficult to treat or control among those without adequate housing.
Many homeless people have multiple health problems."
Then of course, she asked the crowd if they were ready to "… start taking care of our Veterans."
Again, let me quote from a National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet, "Homeless Veterans,"
"Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006)."
"In general, the needs of homeless veterans do not differ from those of other homeless people. However there is some evidence that programs which recognize and acknowledge veteran experience may be more successful in helping homeless veterans transition into stable housing. Until serious efforts are made to address the underlying causes of homelessness, including inadequate wages, lack of affordable housing, and lack of accessible, affordable health care, the tragedy of homelessness among both veterans and non-veterans will continue to plague American communities."
The truth is this: all of the speeches; all of the campaign promises; all of the "my agenda is better than my opponents so vote for me" claims are nothing more than a bunch of political bunk.
So long as there is one homeless family and nothing is done to correct that and get them off of the streets, there will be children left behind. So long as there is one homeless person in this nation who doesn’t have access to adequate health care, you can throw the whole "health care for every American" promise in the trash can where it belongs. So long as there is one homeless Veteran who is forced to sleep out of doors because there aren’t enough shelter beds available, then the promise of "taking care of our Veterans" will be nothing more than hollow words.
Like I said, I’ve been listening to what the candidates are saying, but I’m also listening for what they’re not saying.
They aren’t saying anything about increasing funding to help the nation’s homeless find a way to become housed. They aren’t saying anything about finding a solution to the shrinking numbers of affordable housing units – which means that more American’s will find themselves becoming homeless. They aren’t saying anything about increasing funding to help the hundreds of thousands of homeless Veteran’s finally get the chance to come "Back To The World."
I’m sure that come Election Day, the Presidential candidates – as well as other groups – will be clamoring about making sure that no voter is disenfranchised. But if we take a look at recent history, we’ll see that there were thousands upon thousands of homeless who were turned away at the polls last time around simply because they didn’t have a "residential" address.
And since so many homeless will not be able to vote, that may be the actual reason that their needs are ignored by politicians.