When candidate Bill Clinton pledged to “end welfare as we know it,” that statement essentially summed up the current state of poverty politics. In recent years, it has become politically advantageous to promise to end welfare. On the other hand, ending poverty, the real problem, has become an issue that most politicians prefer to avoid. There is more to this shift than mere rhetoric. Rather, the fact that the pledge to end welfare came from a Democratic presidential campaign is emblematic of a major political shift that has gone largely unremarked. Over time, the party of antipoverty warriors has evolved into a party of antiwelfare warriors. The Clinton pledge signaled a new stage in the “reinvention” of Democratic party politics, one that has profound implications, not only for the current Republican attack on welfare and other social programs, but, ultimately, for the nation’s capacity to address poverty.
Before getting caught up in the raging ...
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