Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Now Is The Time For Class Warfare

Thomas Frank, author of What's The Matter With Kansas, has scored a regular Wednesday column with the Wall Street Journal. Yeah, go figure.

He tells us

Now comes the fall culture-war offensive, catching the Democrats by surprise as it always does and spreading panic and desperation among their ranks. As the depth of the Republican breakthrough becomes apparent to Democrats, they launch the same feeble counterattacks that failed them last time, prudishly correcting misleading GOP advertisements and crying for the recess monitor when the other side plays dirty.

And none of this works.

Exactly. Every time they play dirty, just like they did last time and the time before that and the time before that, Democrats whine that it isn't fair. They are amazed that God, guns, and gays are the issue one more time, that Democrats are called elitist, and that somehow the Dick Cheneys and John McCains of the world are seen as two-fisted beer drinkers.

We need to get over the fact that it doesn't make sense. They have a way of tapping into some irrational feeling that we aren't capable of understanding. Instead we should be good observers and see that it just keeps happening.

Things would go better for Democrats if they recognized the culture war for what it is: a debased form of class war, a false populism in which an "authentic" America rises up against its would-be masters, an effete bunch of arugula-eaters who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." But a visceral feeling of class conflict is what lies at the core of the whole thing: a righteous grievance against wrongful, pedantic rulers. It is so attractive emotionally that I often wish I could sign up for it myself.

Me too. But alas, that isn't my way.

Mr. Franks brings us to the issues today and the current Wall Street mess. (Follow the link above to read the whole piece. It is worth the trip.)

There is simply no way to blame this disaster, as Republicans used to do, on labor unions or over-regulation. No, this is the conservatives' beloved financial system doing what comes naturally. Freed from the intrusive meddling of government, just as generations of supply-siders and entrepreneurial exuberants demanded it be, the American financial establishment has proceeded to cheat and deceive and beggar itself -- and us -- to the edge of Armageddon. It is as though Wall Street was run by a troupe of historical re-enactors determined to stage all the classic panics of the 19th century.


There has scarcely been a better time to shove the arugula aside and talk about the realities of class. It is heartening to see that Barack Obama is beginning to do just that, but he must keep hammering at the point until everyone in America understands the choice that lies before us.


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