In response to my blog a few weeks back on translating conscious consumerism like PRODUCT (RED) and other advocacy efforts into the U.S. elections, Gawain Kripke from Oxfam commented that it would nice if development and poverty were voting issues. Last week, the ONE Campaign launched a “ONE Vote” video that attempts to bridge that gap.
The “ONE Vote” video pans through a line of individuals including Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Don Cheadle, New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, singer songwriter Toby Keith, Alfre Woodard, journalist Nick Clooney, faith leaders Pastor Rick Warren and Bishop Charles E. Blake, Democratic and Republican strategists Mike McCurry and Jack Oliver and Shayne Moore, a stay-at-home mom queuing up to vote. It urges Americans to ask “what does your candidate think” about global poverty when casting a vote at the polls.
The video was featured on major television networks, and could be found on the front pages of MySpace, Yahoo, YouTube, and both the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) websites last week. The page views and sign-ons generated by the coverage demonstrate yet again that there is American interest and support for constructively engaging in solving global problems like poverty. Unfortunately, as of today, there is little mention of global poverty on either the RNC or DNC websites. And as I listened to the news this morning, I heard things like “values” and “marriage laws” and “Iraq” but I don’t recall hearing "global poverty".
We have one week to go before the U.S. elections on November 7 and I wonder whether we can be assured that development and poverty have become voting issues yet. The laudable efforts of the ONE Campaign and others to incorporate global poverty into pre-election discourse are an important start, but it is clear we have more to do. Perhaps when “global poverty” has been added to the permanent “issues” and “agenda” sections of the RNC and DNC websites, we will have a better sense of its role in the U.S. political debate. And when we have campaign ads highlighting a candidate’s record on tackling global poverty, or better yet, a smear ad attacking an opponent’s poor record on global poverty, we will know we have really hit a home run.