Nov. 14, 2018—Delegate Sam Rasoul, who represents the 11th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, penned an oped in the Roanoke Times Nov. 11, in which he sought to direct attention to one of the fundamental economic crises facing the state, and implicitly the nation. Under the title “The Violence of Poverty,” Rasoul argued that more attention should be paid to “one form of violence impacts more people in our country than any other, yet rarely makes the headlines: Poverty.”
After referencing recent studies that address the long-term damage which grinding poverty inflicts on children, Rasoul poses the question:
Some adverse life experiences catalyze growth, but the relentless onslaught from the cruelty of poverty can scar people for life. This reality, too real for one in six Americans [45 million Americans—ed.], jolts us to our core. In Southwest Virginia, those unable to make ends meet jumps to 59 percent, according to the United Way. Begging the question; why isn’t poverty a top political issue? Probably because Americans most impacted by financial distress are less likely to vote and unable to make large campaign donations, leaving many with little political voice.
Delegate Rasoul himself, a Democratic delegate who has represented his largely urban district since 2014, has taken leadership in putting forward solutions to the national economic conditions which have created this condition. He has twice introduced resolutions into the Virginia House of Delegates calling for the state legislature to memorialize Congress for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall; in the last session, he joined with fellow Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (31st District) in introducing HR1, which would memorialize Congress to pass a Hamiltonian National Infrastructure Bank, as well as re-introducing the Glass-Steagall memorial.
Rasoul is one of dozens of state legislators across the country who have taken such leadership. Resolutions calling on Congress to establish a national infrastructure bank were introduced in 15 state legislatures in 2018. As we approach the 2019 legislative season, along with a Congress infused with a good deal of new blood, the opportunity for effective action on this front is wide open.