Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Class Warfare's Losing Record ^ | June 3, 2012 | Salena Zito

Posted on 06/03/2012 5:51:29 AM PDT by Kaslin

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – Newspaper accounts of the day described with shock the “enormous crushing crowds” that gathered in cities and towns (including this one) to see William Jennings Bryan, the Democrats’ presidential candidate of 1896, as he made his way to Pittsburgh.

The old master of class warfare did not disappoint: Paper after paper chronicled his rhetoric and the “unheard of” adulation he received from what he termed “the masses.”

The nation had been in a deep depression, with high unemployment and violent labor strikes, in the three years leading to the presidential election between Bryan and Republican William McKinley, Ohio’s former governor.

Despite the social unrest, economic uncertainty and a 90 percent voter turnout in many areas, Bryan and his class-based message failed.

Fast forward to today: President Barack Obama has decided that class warfare will be his winning message for re-election – and Bain Capital will be his code word for that message, implicitly conveying all the meanings of his greater theme.

Bain is the venture-capital firm that Republican Mitt Romney helped to create; it has invested in or acquired hundreds of companies, including Staples, Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, The Sports Authority, Toys "R" Us and The Weather Channel.

In some cases, it loaned seed money to promising entrepreneurs. It also engaged in leveraged buyouts and attempts to turn around struggling companies with new management, re-organizations and cash infusions.

Jobs usually are saved or created by firms such as Bain. However, the leveraged-buyout process often is messy, and people sometimes lose jobs in pursuit of greater profitability.

Traveling much the same path as Bryan here in Ohio and in neighboring Pennsylvania, Vice President Joe Biden has escalated Obama’s class warfare with fevered cries – “They don't get us! They don't get who we are!”

The attacks on Bain also can be seen as part of Team Obama's progressive narrative, according to Baylor University political science professor Curt Nichols. It “stresses distrust in the free market and champions greater governmental intervention in social and economic life.”

“Without care, sometimes this narrative can … promote simplistic ‘us versus them’-type views that stress conflict between the haves and have-nots” – classic class-warfare language, Nichols said.

Appeals to economic populism – pitting people against so-called “interests” – are as old as the Democratic Party; Andrew Jackson successfully used them in the presidential election of 1828.

Jacksonian Democrats never opposed capitalism, however, and most certainly did not support a stronger central government.

“It wasn't until decades after Karl Marx really got the idea going that American politics witnessed the first mainstream appeals to class warfare made by Bryan,” said Nichols.

Since Bryan remains the only major-party candidate to lose three elections, you have to wonder how well class warfare works with Americans.

This is why Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell both dismissed the argument as wrong.

What the Obama campaign misses is that the working class – white, middle-income, blue-collar Democrats – deeply resents the dependency class and will not respond positively to such rhetoric.

Successful populists such as Republican Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt did not allow their championing of “the little guy” to devolve into class warfare.

They realized that Americans tend to view the United States as a land of opportunity and do not begrudge anyone for becoming wealthy.

The line between these two attitudes is sometimes fine. Yet class warfare has never won an election, while appeals to economic populism sometimes have succeeded.

Besides the attacks on Bain Capital, the Obama campaign appears to be using an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink appeal. Gone are 2008’s lofty appeals to “Hope” and “Change” – but what remains?

In the fashion of Chicago pols throughout history, Obama appears to be targeting his appeals to each faction of the Democrats’ coalition – women, African-Americans, big labor, young voters, gays – with values-based appeals and material offerings.

These tactics may add up to less than a complete strategy, however.

And how does his new campaign theme – “Forward” – fit into this puzzle?

Perhaps it is just a catchy phrase. Yet those who consider it another code word know that it traditionally has been part of the lexicon of the European socialist movement.

Another appeal to class warfare?

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Ohio
KEYWORDS: barackobama; classwarfare; wealth

1 posted on 06/03/2012 5:51:33 AM PDT by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin – At the turn of the century, a prominent Christian led a movement to transform American culture. He stood up for the weak and downtrodden. He pointed out the connection between Darwinism and the nastier parts of American life. And, for his trouble, he was labeled a “fanatic” and a “demagogue.”...

...Bryan “burned only and always to see religion heal the world.” If that sounds familiar, it should—it’s the vision that drives many Christians today...

...If Bryan were around today, he’d be a great social conservative Christian and/or political leader...

2 posted on 06/03/2012 6:03:36 AM PDT by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

In order to destroy America, you have to engender class hatred, so the poor will support a Socialist revolution and redistribution of wealth. This has never been possible in this country because even the poor hope to be rich someday, and think it is a real possibility.

So the first thing to do is eliminate this possibility, by sucking up all of the available capital, destroying the utility of education, making it very difficult to start of maintain a business and ensuring that any opportunities that do come along are reserved for the rich and well connected.

This is the reason for all of the economic destruction we have witnessed in the last three years. The Democrats are intent on destroying the ladder of success, so the poor will resign themselves to the notion that then can never be rich on their own.

When this finally happens, the class warfare rhetoric will take hold, and the Revolution is as good as won.

3 posted on 06/03/2012 6:09:31 AM PDT by Haiku Guy ("The problem with Internet Quotes is that you never know if they are real" -- Abraham Lincoln)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

FDR didn’t practice class warfare? Could have fooled me. He was virulent about it. He demonized business like they were all that was evil. That is until he needed them to win WW II, then he finally backed off and let them produce.

4 posted on 06/03/2012 6:12:21 AM PDT by drbuzzard (All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Wow! My hometown of record, East Palestine OH. Never knew WJB spoke there although the Pennsylvania RR ran through so it made sense for a whistlestop.

Favorite EPO joke: a streamliner was stopped with a maintenance problem. A Hollywood diva on her impatient way to New York got off and stormed into the trackside diner and demanded, “What do I have to do to get a decent cup of coffee around here!?”

A local geezer offered, “Gee, ma’am, you can have some of mine. It’s already been saucered and blowed!”


5 posted on 06/03/2012 6:41:40 AM PDT by elcid1970 (Nuke Mecca now. Death to Islam means freedom for all mankind.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: elcid1970

My hometown, too.

In early 70’s, the newly formed Ohio Lottery Commission needed to find the location for a permanent office. The typical locations applied: Columbus, Cleveland, etc. Also East Palestine, population 5100! It touted the fact that it had no traffic congestion . . .

6 posted on 06/03/2012 8:15:29 AM PDT by Remole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Thank you, Kaslin, for posting Zito's piece!

Hope you will forgive me for reposting most of my response on another thread today relating to views on "moral issues" of the day. The "class warfare" strategy of the power-seeker class (so-called "progressives," Obama, Biden, et al) fits right in with the points made there on the "morality" of coercive "taking" of the earnings of some in the name of "helping" others.

Clearly, the Dems' strategy is calculated to accumulate power to a political class which robs Peter to pay Paul in order to enslave and control both Peter and Paul.

That is precisely what America's Founders feared and is why they wrote a "People's" Constitution to "bind down" and "chain" (from Jefferson) any and all individuals who might be elected to postions of power in "the People's" self-government!

In order to enlighten what Thomas Jefferson called "the American mind" of today to the Founding generation's wisdom and reasoning on their strong Constitutional limits protecting "the People's" rights to property, a reading of the following words of John Adams might be in order. They can be found and downloaded from here.

John Adams, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States

- 1787 - Works 6:8--9

"Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free." (Underlining added for emphasis)

After reading Adams' words, and seeing what has happened today,can we doubt the wisdom of his words?

“The past shows unvaryingly that when a people’s freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang, but in silence amid the comfort of being cared for. That is the dire peril in the present trend toward statism. If freedom is not found accompanied by a willingness to resist, and to reject favors, rather than to give up what is intangible but precarious, it will not long be found at all.” —Richard Weaver, 1962

"Ideas have consequences." - Weaver

7 posted on 06/03/2012 9:30:33 AM PDT by loveliberty2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson