Recovering critical voices from the black radical tradition, this essay highlights the links between poverty, racism, capitalism, and imperialism in contemporary U.S. politics. I analyze the 2012 election cycle and Obama’s policies and initiatives on poverty during his first term and ask what we can expect in the future. Noting that insights from the black radical tradition are rarely discussed in national discourse, the poverty of American politics is revealed as an inability to hear this criticism, to see poverty in our midst, and to address the inevitable ills that are the result of capitalist economics and liberal democratic politics.

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