During the heady days of the 2009 protests against the “Porkulus” bill, Obamacare, and big government in general, many people spoke of the rise of the Tea Party movement as the result of Presidents Obama and Bush having “woken the sleeping giant” of pro-liberty America.
But that giant may turn out to be a pygmy when compared to what Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Occupy Wall Street have awoken with their incessant and intensifying class warfare.
Americans who consider themselves Tea Partiers are a minority of the country, even if a significant and motivated one. The real majority, one which Democrats are foolishly antagonizing, are those of us who refuse to accept the left’s claims that Americans of one economic class are the enemy of those in another economic class.
A recent poll by Gallup shows that the efforts of Obama and the Occupiers may be backfiring against the beggar-thy-neighbor Alinskyite left.
To be clear, while the poll shows that “Americans’ views of their own position as ‘haves’ or ‘have nots’ have been remarkably stable,” the percentage of Americans who believe that the nation is divided along those lines has plunged since the last similar poll, done just prior to President Obama’s election in 2008.
During the Bush years, people were beginning to think that lower-income Americans were in a form of conflict with the elite, now called “the 1 percent,” or were perhaps even their victims. Those views became particularly intense during the depth of the 2008 financial crisis when politicians of both parties, parroted by media everywhere, blamed the real estate crash and ensuing stock market plunge on Wall Street bankers who fooled unsuspecting borrowers into buying houses they couldn’t afford and then securitized “toxic” derivatives and sold them to unsuspecting investors.
The mess was far more a failure of government than of markets, something which one might think would be difficult for the American people to learn, especially since politicians of both parties have a lot to answer for when it comes to pushing “affordable housing” aka “vote buying” on the nation.
But Barack Obama has given the nation a tremendous object lesson by posing the federal government as the solution to all problems — and then proving that it isn’t. When the president said that spending a trillion dollars of our children’s future earnings would keep unemployment below 8 percent only to see us spend the last two and a half years with only three months below 9 percent unemployment — and none below 8.5 percent — the public begins to see the economic emperor as wearing no clothes.
Even if the voters don’t think about it explicitly, if the Obama administration’s claims about government fixing the economy are so obviously false, then just perhaps the other charges made about evil capitalists being the source of all evil may also be false. At least, they’re worth skepticism.
And thus the public has become skeptical.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has likewise had the opposite effect of what its anarcho-socialist hygiene-challenged spoiled middle-class kids intended. When you see “protesters” defecating on a police car or an American flag, instigating violence, and generally being incoherent, the ordinary American is likely to see those people as a greater threat than a bunch of villainized bankers could ever be. Again, when the messenger is so utterly without credibility, the internalized message among the public is likely to be the opposite of what the preachers of radicalism offer.
Among those 19 groups for which Gallup broke out the “haves” versus “have nots” responses, only one, those earning less than $30,000 per year, had a majority who put themselves in the latter category. Even the unemployed, non-whites, those without a college degree, and Democrats all have a majority who self-identify as “haves.”
While a majority of Americans believe that the nation is not divided along these lines, a majority of Democrats do buy into the class warfare rhetoric, with 58 percent saying we are split between “haves” and “have-nots.” However, even that is down three percent from 2008. Independent voters reject the class warfare concept with only 37 percent believing we’re divided, a stunning drop of 11 points from three years ago. Similarly, self-identified moderates are at 38 percent, down 13 percent. Not surprisingly, barely one quarter of Republicans (26 percent) and conservatives (27 percent) see class warfare as real.
Interestingly, while the numbers for Independents and moderates were nearly identical, as were Republicans and conservatives, there is a significant gap between Democrats and liberals, with the latter group showing a 66 percent majority believing in the “haves” versus “have-nots” divide, eight percent more than Democrats. While this might mean that there are liberal Independents adding to the number, a bigger take-away is likely that there is a fair number of slightly conservative Democrats, those we used to call Reagan Democrats, who might drift away from their party’s presidential nominee.
As if to reemphasize the point, another Gallup poll released Friday shows that “More Americans say it is important that the federal government enact policies that grow the economy and increase equality of opportunity than say the same about reducing the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor.” Only 46 percent of poll respondents thought that government efforts to reduce income or wealth gaps between rich and poor were “extremely important” or “very important.” However, when it comes to increasing equality of opportunity, the number is 70 percent, and for “grow and expand the economy” the number jumps to 82 percent. Somewhere Thomas Jefferson is smiling; Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky not so much.
We are all Americans, all endowed with an unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, and most of us with aspirations to the American Dream of upward economic mobility. When you hate your neighbor because of his success, you shred our national fabric. Barack Obama may want to go down that road, but most of the rest of the nation properly finds his intentional attempts to divide us somewhere between dubious and abhorrent.
As Gallup notes, “Americans as a whole are no more likely to see the country as divided into haves and have nots than at any time in the past two decades.” This is bad news for Barack Obama and other Democrats running for reelection in 2012. Their siren song of divide-and-conquer is falling flat on the ears of the majority of Americans. But the annoying political tinnitus is awakening the real sleeping giant — those Americans who recognize that our nation did not become great by thinking like V.I. Lenin, Che Guevara, or Chairman Mao.
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