Democrats have talked relatively little about this crucial issue in the last few years. Why? John Halpin has a compelling explanation in his new piece at The Liberal Patriot:
"Obviously, Democrats still care about issues of poverty and support a range of smart policies that would help low-income people across the country. But their reference point and analytical lens has shifted entirely toward confusing ideas about equity and justice in recent years—ideas that are grounded in combatting various institutional oppressions based on race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual identity rather than carrying on the historic effort to combine civil rights and economic justice into a multiracial movement against poverty.
The moral and political case for doing this is thin, however. If you can’t build and sustain political majorities at the state and federal levels to support redistributive anti-poverty policies, then all the abstract talk about equity is meaningless. Poor people won’t get help without the votes. In order to do this, liberals need to continually amass coalitions of people across racial and ideological lines to back income supports, housing policies, affordable health care, educational equality measures, and legal protections and collective bargaining arrangements for low-income people of all backgrounds.
Building and sustaining these coalitions to support anti-poverty work has always been difficult, especially in the face of those who don’t think the government should do these things at all or only in limited situations. Given these political obstacles, the idea of turning larger economic problems associated with low-wage jobs and poverty into racial, gender, or other “systemic” issues makes little sense—liberals need to unite people around common economic challenges and opportunities, not divide them by sectarian categories. If you want racial justice or environmental justice or any of the other laudable ideals of the contemporary left, you first need to make sure people aren’t poor and you can’t do that unless low-income people of all races are the focus of mass political action over time."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!