John Edwards: 'Some want us to ignore those who struggle in the world'

From a speech to the London School of Economics by the US Senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate in the US elections last year
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The Independent Online

Like Britain, America is a place that believes that one person can rise from very little to make a big difference. But the best evidence of America not living up to its ideals is the more than 36 million Americans who live in poverty every day.

Like Britain, America is a place that believes that one person can rise from very little to make a big difference. But the best evidence of America not living up to its ideals is the more than 36 million Americans who live in poverty every day.

In too many places around the world, some want us to ignore those who struggle. They want us to believe that each of us is out there on our own. If you make it, that's your success. If you don't, that's your failure.

The truth is nobody succeeds alone - in America, Britain, or anywhere else. They succeed because laws protect private property and ensure free markets. They succeed because their country has good schools and universities that give every- one the tools to get ahead. And yes, they succeed because of three very important virtues: hard work, self-discipline, and responsibility.

I know this from my own life. My father had to borrow $50 to get me out of the hospital. He took me home to a two-room house in the mill village. Eventually I was the first in my family to go to college. I continued to work and save and I was able to achieve success I never thought possible.

I am asking the American people to do a few things to help eradicate poverty in America. Many of them resemble steps that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have pursued here. But I also believe that an essential part of all our efforts will be to carry this fight to end extreme poverty around the world.

Think about it. Freedom is meaningless if your children are dying of preventable diseases like malaria. Freedom is meaningless to a child that shows up at a school but is turned away because that child can't pay for a uniform. And freedom is meaningless when 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day.

There's been a lot of talk about freedom in America and around the world. Let me be clear: the idea that America stands for freedom is not new. It is not owned by any political party. It is not owned by any one country. It is an idea that is borne from our words and our wishes, and given life through our actions.

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