Not the time to close our hearts, our minds, or our borders. Time to vote!

Oxfam America
8 min readOct 22, 2018


Just two weeks until the election. Are you set to vote?

This election will have consequences for decades to come, especially for people who are living in poverty here at home and around the world.

Puerto Rico. Yemen. Syria.

Separated families. Climate change. Inequality.

Tax cuts for the rich. More tax cuts for the rich. Budget cuts to programs for the poor. Closing our country’s doors to refugees. There are a lot of wrongs to right. But together, we can fight for what’s right.

Some of our elected leaders are presenting us with a false choice: are you a part of the American family or the human family? But we don’t have to choose. Solutions to poverty, inequality, and injustice, here in the United States and around the world, are found by working together, not by turning inward.

Whoever you are — a student, a parent, an activist, a policy maker, or a public figure, a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent — you are essential to the global movement to end the injustice of poverty. And voting is an important part of that.

Whether it is a local city council member or a US Senator, those we elect will have to confront these issues in the years to come. And with everything going on in our world right now, this election is more crucial than ever.

There are many reasons why you should vote. Here are just some of the issues at stake:

Fatem and her husband fled their hometown of Raqqa in Syria with their infant son in 2013. Oxfam visited them in Lebanon. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

REFUGEES This election is crucial for America’s legacy as the beacon of light in times of crisis, welcoming those who have been forced from their homes and have nowhere else to turn.

Millions of people today are fleeing conflict, disaster, poverty, inequality, and the effects of climate change. More people than ever on record — 68 million — have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict, persecution and violence.

Seeking safety in America is often the last resort for people who have been forced to flee and have lost everything. We must stand together as one global community against the same intolerance and fear that drove so many people to flee their homes in the first place.

But some elected officials want to abandon America’s legacy and close our hearts to those seeking asylum and refuge. After repeated attempts to completely slam the door on refugees, President Trump’s administration is on a mission to admit the lowest number of refugees since the program began.

What makes America great is our diversity of experiences, ideas, talents, and the opportunity for anyone to succeed. But it’s also about helping and welcoming the most vulnerable to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We need elected officials to fight to defend our most valuable freedoms and principles.

Mako is pastoralist farmer in the Somali region of Ethiopia, struggling to survive through severe drought. The region has long been exposed to harsh effects of climate change and recurrent drought has led to a lack of water and diminishing natural resources needed to sustain the population. Kieran Doherty / Oxfam

CLIMATE CHANGE This election is crucial to our fight against climate change that impacts the poorest and most vulnerable first and worse, here at home and around the world.

From the dramatic rains of Hurricanes Florence and Harvey, to the extreme droughts in East Africa, we are already living in our new shocking climate reality. Now climate scientists are warning us that it will get much, much worse. Rising global temperatures means erratic weather patterns — droughts, heat waves, hurricanes and flooding — will only become more devastating.

Climate change is an issue of life and death; it is an existential crisis for every single man, woman, and child on this planet regardless of national identity, class, religion, or culture. Sadly, it also impacts the poorest and most vulnerable people first and worst. Increasing water scarcity, flooding and extreme weather events are making a huge impact on the livelihoods of millions worldwide and here at home.
People in poor countries are more than 20 times as likely to be affected by climate-related disasters as those in the developed world. In the US, low-income American families, communities of color, immigrants, and Native American communities are often the least able to respond to and recover from such crises.

President Trump has been working diligently to unravel America’s commitments to the global fight against climate change, completely disregarding US political and economic interests, global stability, and national security in the process. But American business leaders, governors, mayors, and community are taking the mantle and continuing the fight against climate change. Our elected officials should be willing to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and forge solutions that protect our planet, while not forgetting the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable on the front lines.

Tondo slum in Manila, Philippines Credit: Dewald Brand/Oxfam

INEQUALITY This election is crucial for the fight for fair wages for workers so that they can work their way out of poverty, while pushing back against big companies that rig our political system for their own benefit at the expense of everyone else.
Our economy is not working for everyone. Economic growth has helped deliver massive wealth to a tiny economic elite, while millions of people scrape by on poverty wages. The 1% now controls more wealth than the rest of us combined and things are only getting worse. The poorest people in our societies suffer most — particularly women who suffer high levels of economic discrimination, work in the lowest paid jobs, and take on the lion’s share of unpaid care work.

What goes up is failing to come back down. An increasingly complex system of tax havens and an industry of wealth managers guarantees that the wealth of the world’s richest stays far away from the reach of governments and ordinary citizens. It is estimated $7.6 trillion is being hidden in tax havens by the wealthiest of the world.

Congress and President Trump have already passed a trillion dollar tax-cut for big businesses and the rich. Every day they work to roll back rules that protect workers and their wages. Some politicians are clamoring to pass even more tax cuts for millionaires, paid-for with cuts to essential services like Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and global anti-poverty assistance. Meanwhile, 1 in 9 full-time workers here in the US are too poor to make ends meet.

The economy is good at producing billionaires — a new one every two days in fact — but not so good at producing good jobs and rising incomes for working people. Our political leaders must stand up for the rest of us, not just the ones with the highest paid lobbyists.

Students in a school in Senegal. Rebecca Blackwell / Oxfam

FOREIGN AID This election is crucial to continue America’s fight against poverty.

Instead of building on the investments we have made in the fight against poverty and ongoing reforms to make foreign aid even more effective, President Trump’s administration is seeking cuts that will have dire consequences for millions of people, as well as US global influence, national security interests, and the values central to American identity.

The only thing stopping these cuts from decimating essential life-saving programs are Members of Congress willing to defend the most effective anti-poverty programs in the federal budget. These investments are less than one percent of the federal budget but they do enormous good in the world.

It is easy for people to be misled by the various myths that exist about the US foreign aid budget. While many believe the US spends more than 26% of its budget on aid, the reality is that less than 1% of America’s budget is spent on poverty reducing aid.
Though misconceptions about the foreign aid budget exist, the majority of Americans understand that foreign aid bolsters the global economy and can prevent international conflict.

Credit: Christopher Burns/Unsplash

US LEADERSHIP IN THE WORLD This election is crucial for America’s continuing leadership in the world.

Nations must work together to solve the problems they can’t solve alone. Principled internationalism has been a hallmark of American foreign policy for decades. To turn our backs now would not only betray this legacy, but also the system of global cooperation that works for the benefit of all rather than privileging the interest of a few.

But at the United Nations, President Trump doubled down on his administration’s narrow and defensive approach to international relations, seeking only to work with nations whose leaders agree with him, instead of demonstrating true leadership and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people around the world.

Especially at this time of unprecedented global crisis — with more people forced to flee their homes than ever since World War II, inequality reaching staggering heights in developed and developing countries alike, and the effects of climate change threatening to alter the very face of this planet we all call home — we must not turn our back on the international order.

Our elected officials must believe that America best fulfills its founding promise when it works together with the international community to solve the problems that no one nation can solve alone. The United States can achieve a great deal of its agenda as a partner or none of it as an antagonist.

Credit: Josh Johnson/Unsplash.

SO ARE YOU READY TO VOTE? There are indeed many challenges, here at home and around the world, but we cannot address them by turning our backs or putting up walls. In an increasingly interconnected world, we will prosper together, or we will suffer apart. When we step into the voting booth on November 6, remember that the choice you make will not only impact you, but the lives of millions of people around the world.

Now is the time to demand that our leaders fight to protect the poorest and most vulnerable. We must stand for what is right, fair, and just. Now is the time to VOTE!

For more information, take a look at Oxfam American’s voter action page.



Oxfam America

We’re a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice.