The Reverend Jesse Jackson's political tour of Pennsylvania -- which began over the weekend in Philadelphia, touring union halls, churches and speaking on radio programs -- continued today with a stop in Pittsburgh to rally local voters. Early in the day he spoke at a community breakfast featuring numerous elected officials including Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. He’s touring areas of the U.S. to encourage people to go the polls November 6th, especially in this state where he said efforts are underway to disenfranchise voters.
“The voter ID law is a scheme designed to put extra pressure on seniors, many of whom do not have a voter ID, but have other forms of ID, they’d have to buy a birth certificate, which amounts to a poll tax. [It] makes it more difficult for students to vote, for ethnic minorities to vote,” said Jackson.
Jackson said the upcoming election is a critical one, and is urging people to support Barack Obama’s re-election bid. Even so, he said with all of the talk of the middle class this election, none of the candidates for president and vice president are talking about the rising poverty rate in the nation.
“50 million Americans are in poverty. 53 million are food-insecure. We must address the growing impact of crippling poverty, in part driven by unnecessary wars and too many tax cuts to too few people without reinvestment in America,” he said.
Jackson said politicians should pay attention to the poor because they could be a powerful swing vote in a presidential election.
Jackson also attended a student rally at Community College of Allegheny County, where he reiterated the importance of voting. He said he has one overarching message for anyone who will listen:
“Vote your hopes and not your fears, move forward by your hopes and no backwards by your fear. Everybody will vote November 6th, even those who don’t vote will vote.”