Here's one way it might work, based on strategies developed for the Third World by the humanitarian organization World Vision and the micro-loan vision of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. McCain could announce the formation of H.O.P.E.F.U.L., which would stand for Helping Other People Enjoy Full and Useful Lives. Churches (the moral structure), businesses (some capital and training) and individuals (more capital and encouragement) would be involved in H.O.P.E.F.U.L. Every American participating would "adopt" a poor person who would be screened for drug and alcohol addiction, criminal backgrounds and interviewed to determine whether, if given a chance, they were - or might be - motivated to escape poverty.
Individuals would contribute, say, 20 dollars per month to a privately managed account in the recipient's name. The money would be managed by H.O.P.E.F.U.L. to help the poor person with a private school education, job training, capital for starting a small business, and whatever else it takes to help. The sponsor would be urged to meet and serve as a mentor to the poor person, or at least correspond with encouraging words. Regular progress reports would be sent to the sponsor(s) and when the person is declared a success, all would rejoice and the nation would be better off. This would not be a government program, improving its chance of success.
If you're reading this newspaper, chances are you are not poor. Do you know any poor people? If your life has been built around pursuing happiness by the accumulation of material goods and wealth, investing yourself in another human being and seeing him triumph might be the greatest gift you could give yourself and your nation. I know this from personal experience.
If John McCain rallied the good nature of Americans behind such a vision, it could be his top achievement should he become president. And it's a good idea, no matter who wins.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.