Monday, October 10, 2005

A Stunning Reversal?

From this New York Times story about the dashing of liberal hopes that Hurricane Katrina would lead to a serious discussion of poverty and renewed commitment to social programs.

"We've had a stunning reversal in just a few weeks," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. "We've gone from a situation in which we might have a long-overdue debate on deep poverty to the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that low-income people will be asked to bear the costs. I would find it unimaginable if it wasn't actually happening."

Wow. Are progressives still, after these last nearly 5 years, so naive as to believe that the Republicans will not press their agenda at every opportunity? Are we still not prepared to counter this? None of this should have come as a surprise. Not the suspension of affirmative action requirements for contractors. Not the push by Congress for spending cuts in social programs to offset the cost of the relief effort. This shock is just so frustrating.

On the other hand, it is not as the conservatives come off well here either. See this closing paragraph from the article:

"What we've done for the poor hasn't worked," said Robert L. Woodson, president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a conservative policy group. "People are going to say, 'How did these people get into this circumstance in the first place?' It gives us an opportunity to really turn over a new leaf."

How did the poor get there in the first place? Well, considering that many of them are black, I would say that 250 years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow, followed by the Republicans' Southern Strategy that looked to marginalize the poor and people of color from an entire party would have something to do with it. Does Woodson really believe that the Great Society made people poor? Or does he think that if he and other conservatives say this shit enough, people will believe it.

So on one side you have people whose hearts are in the right place but still maintain a naive view of the evils of the Republican Party and the current political outlook in America. And on the other side you have a bunch of lying bastards looking to screw over the poor at every turn. Lovely.