Phil posted yesterday several reasons why he loves the gay nonprofit industry, and a few people in the comments pointed out that they didn't like how their agenda was pretty much set based on wealthier LGBT's desires. I'm not defending that reality, but it's a lot bigger than Gay, Inc., or us:
As research from Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels demonstrated several years ago, American politicians are powerfully affected by the views of the rich, and this has nothing to do with any recent electoral trends.
Rather, as the chart on the right shows, things have been this way for a long time. Using data from voting records in the early 90s, it shows that the responsiveness of senators to the views of the poor and working class is....zero. Or maybe even negative. And that's true for both parties. The middle class does better -- again, with both parties -- and high earners do better still. In fact, they do spectacularly better among Republican senators. And this disparity has almost certainly gotten even worse over the past two decades.
This is the shape of American politics. If your income is low -- and probably a fair number of the 56% who want Bush's tax cuts for the rich repealed are low-income voters -- politicians simply don't care. If you're middle class they care a little more. But if you're rich, then they really, really care. And it's safe to say that most high earners are opposed to repealing tax cuts on high earners. That goes for all Republicans and a growing number of Democrats too. So what seems like a no-brainer isn't as simple as it looks.
Say what you want about American gay orgs working on issues wealthy people care about more, they're pretty much just working within a classist context that's far too entrenched for them to challenge and remain in existence. The real power, both on LGBT issues and others, lies in changes to the democratic process itself.