The fifty-year anniversary of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s declaration of a war on poverty has sparked a new round of right-wing attacks on social policies for the poor. The arguments are familiar. Ronald Reagan set the tone with the quip “we fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.” Now it was people like Paul Ryan who led the chorus, loudly claiming that despite trillions of dollars spent, and hundreds of programs, 47 million Americans remained poor.
The LGBT movement’s laser-focus on marriage equality propagates the myth of gay and lesbian affluence as political strategy, leaving aside any analysis of class or economic inequality or poverty—much less an analysis of capitalism. LGBT people are typically depicted as affluent consumers with high disposable incomes, yet this is hardly the norm. The majority of LGBT/Q people are poor or working class, female, and people of color, who struggle to get a job or hold onto one, to pay their rent and care for themselves and the people they love.
The question whether an Obama-era Democratic party may offer opportunities for labor and left-of-center political interests presumes that Obama's Democratic Party offers potential for significant departure from the rightward tacking we've seen since Bill Clinton's presidency. There is little in anything Obama's said or done to warrant such a presumption.