By Roger Baker
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
The 2012 presidential race is shaping up as a new kind of political fight being fairly openly fought around the issue of class and inequality with racial overtones.
Not so long ago, during Barack Obama’s 2008 election for example, class was the “C” word; class was virtually a forbidden topic in American politics. During the Clinton era, politicians sidestepped the issue and got votes by appealing to the “middle class.” American voters were taught to think of themselves as members of a nearly classless society within a naturally prosperous nation.
During Obama’s first presidential election, his main response to the serious and growing economic crisis was to maintain the fiction that the interests of all economic classes, whether rich or poor, were identical. The 2008 presidential campaign, on the Democratic side, was all about hope.
The hope was that once the economy recovered, as it always did in the modern age, a new tide of economic recovery would lift all boats. This recovery would ease racial tension aimed at immigrants and the low income minority voters who made up much of the Democratic party base.
Especially under the post-9/11 period of corporate domination, the wealthy interests supporting the Republicans were benefiting from exploitative policies that resulted in extreme income inequity. This really amounted to class warfare, but to even raise the issue of inequality would bring immediate charges of inciting class warfare from Republicans.
Even as late as last year, frank discussion about economic injustice was deemed to be such a sensitive topic that Obama was afraid to discuss the issue of rampant and growing economic inequality. Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote at Politico that, in May 2011, historian Robert Dallek finally asked Obama what the group [meeting in the White House’s Family Dining Room] could do to help him. Obama’s answer went right to a present-day concern: “What you could do for me is to help me find a way to discuss the issue of inequality in our society without being accused of class warfare.”