This Presidential election season is one of the craziest, most unpredictable elections in American history. The proposed new policies that are rooted in fear, and the schoolyard insults toward just about everyone, have upended every so called expert's predictions in presidential politics.
But, like every other election season, there is one simple constant: Presidential candidates hardly ever discuss the issue of homelessness in America. There are never town forums, public debates, or large rallies on why there is homelessness in our country, and how we, with the largest economy in the world, can invest in a housing infrastructure that would prevent Americans from living on our streets.
Unlike the topics of foreign policy, or the economy, or education, homelessness is just not a priority among Presidential candidates. Here are five reasons why:
The wrong people are ANGRY. Yes, this election season can be described simply as the year of the angry electorate. Whether the anger is coming from the right or the left, voters are angry over the political establishment's inability to actually make positive change for the average citizen.
But this angry electorate is coming from people who are housed, not homeless. No one is angry that hundreds of thousands of Americans are sleeping on our streets. And, even those who are homeless are not publicly conveying their anger to their elected representatives.
Maybe we need an angry campaign of: "Homeless Lives Matter!"
BLAME is directed toward people who are homeless. It is similar to blaming the victim for the crime against her, our society blames people living on the streets for their own sad predicament. They are lazy! Their addiction or mental health problem (you fill in the blank) is the reason why they are homeless! They just need to pull up their bootstraps and they can help themselves!
Why would a candidate for President propose a compassionate solution to homelessness - like affordable housing - when those who need help are accused of getting themselves into their own homeless dilemma?
Most Americans want their President to provide solutions for hard working fellow citizens.
Homelessness is a lose-lose political issue. No one wants to be called a loser, especially someone running for the highest office in the land. If you are running for President, you win Brownie points when you fight for keeping jobs inside of the United States, or demonize those greedy multinational corporations for laying off average American workers.
It is so hard to advocate for helping the homeless when more and more Americans are ending up on American urban streets.
There are so many reasons why people become homeless, that an American political leader just doesn't have the resources to prevent foster youth, veterans, abused spouses, disabled workers, and low income mothers from becoming homeless.
Homelessness seems to be a losing cause that doesn't help a candidate win votes.
Capitulation is sometimes the easiest default response. When a Democratic President, back in the 1960s, called on our nation to engage in a war on poverty, some idealistic Americans actually thought it would work. But fast forward more than fifty years later, and poverty still ravages our country's communities.
So if we can't eliminate poverty, despite a valiant effort by an American President, why do we think we can actually end homelessness, the most extreme form of poverty? Who wants to be the next President who creates a failing social campaign to end drugs ("just say no!"), or educate all of our youth ("no child left behind"), or end homelessness ("Opening Doors")?
For an American Presidential candidate, it is much easier to campaign for a better economy, or a stronger national security plan. And, ignore homelessness.
The delegate math just doesn't add up. To become an American President, the math is about counting delegates, not popular votes. And when was the last time that a person who was homeless became a delegate for a national political party?
Just be real... People living on the streets traditionally do not vote. And, they are typically not elected as delegates for a presidential party.
Sure, we can wish that presidential candidate would talk about homelessness, one of America's most tragic social issues of our time. But the reality is that unless we change the message of why homelessness should be not only discussed, but actually placed on the front burner of American politics, we will still be battling American homelessness in the next dozen election cycles.