John Edwards New America Initiative

Here is the letter from John Edwards on his New America Initiative. The WPA projects did a lot for America – many of them are still functioning. It is another way to “outsource” the government work with out giving it to the undeserving rich.

Over the past two weeks President Bush has failed in his response to Hurricane Katrina, and as a result thousands of Gulf Coast residents – most of them poor – have been tragically neglected, leading to preventable suffering and death. Our government let them down. Many of them lacked the means to leave their cities; our government failed to help them evacuate. In the wake of the storm many of these poor residents lacked food, water, and medicine. Several days after the storm had passed, many of them still did not have these supplies. A good friend of mine put it well: The often unseen poor, well, they are among us. We see them now. And it’s not just bad schools and an unlivable minimum wage and no healthcare. They don’t even have enough money to get out of the way of a hurricane. They had nowhere to go and no car to get them there. It’s a new attribute of poverty. Not enough money to get out of the way of a killing wind.

But government failure is nothing new for too many of these victims. Before Hurricane Katrina struck, twenty-three percent of New Orleans residents were living in poverty. The Americans who suffered the worst in this disaster are the Americans who always suffer the worst, because for too long our government has turned a blind eye to their plight. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster like this one for the government to see the reality that too many Americans are facing.

Today, the relief effort is focused on providing, food, shelter, and clothing to thousands of men and women. That’s the right thing to do.

But the victims of Katrina want more than life’s necessities. They want a chance to rebuild their lives. Many of them also want to help rebuild a city and a coastline that mean so much to them, and so much to all Americans.

We ought to give them the chance to help through a New America Initiative. This initiative, which is modeled after the Works Progress administration, would help them rebuild a devastated region and offer good-paying jobs and hope to the displaced. Join me and say no to President Bush’s failed leadership in a growing call to take this tragedy and turn it into an opportunity. It is not enough to talk about it; we will have to show this Administration that the real leadership means visionary action. You, one by one, can increase the power of the call to action by signing my New America petition here:

Every single signature increases the power of the call and the chance for real hope for our brothers and sisters. If anything good can come from this terrible tragedy, it can be a New Orleans and a Gulf Coast that represent the one America we all believe in, not the two Americas we’ve seen on television for the last ten days. And the way to build that one America is to help the victims of Katrina take control of their own destiny, with good jobs that contribute to the cause.

A little over 75 years ago, America was struck by a different kind of hurricane, the Great Depression. Like Katrina, the Depression left responsible and hard-working Americans without work and, often, without hope. After years when America did nothing, Franklin Roosevelt called Americans to action. He said something then that is still true today:

“These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”

Today, hundreds of thousands of Katrina’s victims have no money, no jobs, no hope. The Labor Department says it will create some new temporary jobs, but it’s not nearly enough for all these men and women. Work is what they want, and work is what they need.

We have done it before; we can do it again. But this time the vision is not coming from the White House, so it has to come from the people. It has to come from you. In response to the Great Depression, FDR created new opportunities for men and women to work through his alphabet soup of new agencies like the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, we’ve got plenty of government agencies, but we need to adopt the same simple idea as FDR.

That’s why I want to reject the Republicans’ failed philosophy of taking care of wealthy insiders at the expense of everyone else. I propose this New America initiative dedicated to creating good-paying jobs for Katrina’s victims so they can get back on their feet, get the skills they need, and rebuild New Orleans.

In the meantime, it’s crucial that we continue to support relief organizations that are working with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here’s a short list of such organizations. Please give what you can.
Red Cross
Hurricane Housing
In this crisis we’ve seen how detrimental the failure of Presidential leadership can be. But even in this horrible tragedy we have an opportunity to make life better than it was for thousands of impoverished Americans along the Gulf Coast. You and I see these opportunities because we’ve always been looking for them. It’s time that the President sees them too.

– John

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30 Responses to John Edwards New America Initiative

  1. James says:

    This is great. Democrats need to follow his lead on this one and unleash a progressive vision for America to see. This provides great opportunity to highlight our differences and present our message to Americans while we have their attention. Nice one, John!

  2. Hi James

    Yes it is great. We’ve really got so much to do.

  3. Mass says:

    It is good to see that many Democrats join in proposing the same thing. I have seen a similar idea proposed by at least Kennedy and Jessie Jackson (and probably others). It would be nice if they could make that an unified proposition.

  4. Ginny in CO says:

    This can also be tied to teaching people how to fish. Teach the unskilled workers new skills and give them experience so they can go on to better jobs after the reconstruction.

    Mass and James,

    We need all the leaders and all the Democrats to get this rolling.

    Pamela and I will try not to dwell on why more voters could not see the potential of the
    JK/JE ticket.

  5. Ben Mercadante says:

    Yea, it is amazing…Edwards has been talking about the poor for a long time, to bad it takes a Katrina to get it center stage. Hopefully people will listen to Edwards this time. I try not to think of why they passed them up, or back to: did they really lose it?

  6. Teresa says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. It is exactly what the ticket was always about. Help and hope.

    This is such a great opportunity as JE says and as you all have. For the Democratic Party to be what it always was… visionary, futuristic, and smart.

  7. Indie Liberal says:

    Thanks Mr. Edwards. 🙂

  8. Ben

    Right now we just have to be grateful that they are out there doing what they are doing, leading the way.

  9. Ben Mercadante says:


    I totally agree, and Kerry’s moving on a pile of humanitarian legislation, just in time to counter Bush’s executive order to cut wages of the re-build construction work force hired by government contractors. I was a carpenter once and that mekes me made…GGRRRR

  10. Ben Mercadante says:

    So mad that my spelling totally has lost it…

  11. Ben

    Spelling no… we don’t like her – she’s the evil NCLB lady! Oh, that’s Spellings! Don’t like her either. LOL!

    I wave between angry and sad every few minutes. Watched the concert for relief aid, very moving. Rod Stewart and the Tops(?). Wow.

  12. Teresa says:

    I think I just got the picture!

    The stock market skyrocketed this week. There is a lot of work ahead and this might be an economic stimulus for the country, badly needed now. As things progress and optimism rises, Kerry’s legislation and all the Democrats getting in on the side of the people starting over, will get them fabulously positioned for ’06. Oh how Kerry sees this. And I think his major work these days has been making sure the Democrats take back something in Congress.

  13. Teresa says:

    And in the larger picture it is almost as if the country is fixing itself. All these folks trapped in poverty adding danger and draing the system are dispersing and already discovering better lives. A lot of them already have jobs and from what I’ve been hearing, better housing an an awakened opportunity. The more Kerry’s ideas are put to work, the morer this will happen. And Democrats are the experts at economic recovery.We have no choice but to deal with this now.

  14. Teresa says:

    I just wish the other liberal blogs would understand this and get consolidated. Would see the tremendous asset Kerry is. But most of them are not politically savvy, I fear.

  15. Teresa Says: September 9th, 2005 at 10:01 pm

    I agree Teresa. We can’t please all of the people, but I sure do wish more would listen and pay attention.

  16. Ginny in CO says:

    Welcome to the Light, Teresa:)

    We do have some signs of hope, that the path may open.

    May the Force be with us.

  17. Teresa says:

    Amen, my sisters, Amen.

  18. Ginny

    I’m starting to want to read the Celestine Prophecy over again. Did you ever read that? Did any of our readers here read it?

    I’m seeing signs… maybe it’s just a ray of hope. I don’t know. But what JK did today, this is the best I have felt since Katrina. It’s a sign of hope. He just got in there and rolled up his sleeves while everyone else was yelling at each other and he put together a plan. The same thing with Edwards.

    When wil others realize that this is what America needs. Leaders who can lead, not yell and scream and call names and play games – “blame games”. Good lord, does Rove even get how childish and stupid that sounded in the midst of a catastrophic disaster. Randi Rhodes has playing sound bites over and over since they started that meme and they sound like little children with whiney voices!

  19. Teresa says:

    That’s what Kerry always talks about. Plans. Plans for health care, plans for Iraq, plans for the environmnet, etc. he is a highly skilled politician and I truly believe he is a mold for our future. The childishness is no longer funny after this week.

    People will realize. They will be so shell shocked soon they will need to recover. When heating costs kick in this winter that will probably be the final straw.

    Kerry is brilliant. He will be there as we can see. He wants his people to get through this experience and be ready for some positive change. He is a beacon just waiting.

    But I am also deeply pleased with Edwards right now.

  20. Ginny in CO says:


    I think there is a lot to hope for, in spite of the misery. I haven’t read the Celestine Prophecy nor am I aware of it. Sounds like something I wish I could find time for. I want to reread “The Chalice and The Blade” (if I remember the title correctly. I have to get some more house projects finished so I can unpack the books…

    One of these days,

  21. Grace says:

    I agree that Kerry is doing the right thing, but will you ever see it in the media without the qualifying, “possible presidential candidate in 2008”?
    If he does get any attention on CNN,MSNBC,ABC,CBS, it will always be in the context of a political ploy he is using to further his ambitions..

    The media dropped the ball during the debates when they were given proof by a NASA scientist that Bush was being fed answers electronically. Did any newspaper pick it up? NO! THE MEDIA IS IN BUSH’S POCKET1 They are already feeling sorry that he is getting so much criticism.

    Edwards, I agree is also a voice speaking out for the disadvantaged. He has been consistent in this throughout his career. But they will be seen as losers, unfortunately, even though they probably won the election.

    Not fighting for your ideals is a sign of a weak leader. Even if Kerry could not prove the problems in Ohio, he should have led the investigation. I would have shown he is not afraid to stand on principle. Gore should have done the same in 2000.

    It is unfortunate that very good people are discarded like so many old shoes by the people and the media. I really don’t know what can be done to change our collective mindset.

    America is at a turning point now. It remains to be seen if there is anyone out there to lead us out of this mess.

  22. Indie Liberal says:

    Hey Grace,

    I agree with you about how Gore should have asked the Senate to stand. I wish Kerry and Edwards would have stood with the CBC too. I know Kerry was in Iraq and the CBC asked that he not be present because they thought it would distract from the real issue: voter disenfranchisement.

    You don’t know how frustrating it was to hear people complain how much they liked Kerry, but thought he was a “weak” candidate beacuse he didn’t fight back against the Swift Boat Liars, and election fraud.

    It’s unfortunate that everything Kerry, Edwards, and Gore do people will think it’s all about political ambitions and 2008 when they care about the people, when Bush/Cheney just poo-poo them and use them for fake photo-ops.

  23. Grace Says: September 10th, 2005 at 9:01 am

    “but will you ever see it in the media without the qualifying, “possible presidential candidate in 2008??”

    I monitor all the news on Kerry very closely and report it here. The MSM mostly uses the term “former nominee”, not “possible candidate”. Furthermore, Kerry never says a word about running again. He is focused on helping other Dems get elected in ’06.

    “he should have led the investigation”

    Kerry’s legal is STILL investigating. It’s a fraud case and it’s not sensible to publicize their findings before trial. Furthermore, Conyers and the Black Caucus asked Kerry to let them lead the way on this.

    Kerry is NOT afraid to stand on principle, but the ’04 election was far different that ’00. A 3 million vote margin is rather hard to stand against.

  24. Teresa says:


    I stopped agonizing about the media long ago.

    I am saturated with this Kerry nonsense. There are exact political reasons why he did what he did. He is so important to the people of this country and cares about you more than you can fathom. You must learn how it all goes and try to understand.
    Clinging to the last election will get us nowhere when our country is now in severe crisis and there is so so much in the present that has to be confronted.

    Kerry is a godsend.

  25. Teresa

    Well said.

    Yes he is a godsend. We need him now more than ever. Standing behind him – having his back, while he has ours – is so important.

    The bickering about he said, he did, regarding all the Dems is getting us no where. We need to pull together and stand strong NOW! Not shut down and act out of impulse.

  26. Indie Liberal says:

    The bickering about he said, he did, regarding all the Dems is getting us no where. We need to pull together and stand strong NOW! Not shut down and act out of impulse.

    I agree 100% Pam. That shouldn’t matter right now.

  27. Indie Liberal says:

    Clinging to the last election will get us nowhere when our country is now in severe crisis and there is so so much in the present that has to be confronted.

    I need to remember that too Teresa.

  28. Indie

    It’s disheartening at best for all of us right now. We all need each other for reminders and strength!

    We all need hugs! {{{{hugs}}}}

  29. Teresa says:

    Thanks dear Pamela.

    You, too, are a godsend.

  30. Teresa

    I think we all are! Everyone here, you, Ron, KJ, Ginny, Dave from P, Marjorie, Nick, Indie, Ben, everyone!