The "race card" was once an effective ploy in electoral politics. Southern Democrats long used it to rally white voters. In the wake of the civil rights movement, the Republicans took possession of the race card. Nixon used it to strike fear in the minds of white voters, helping to transform a solid South into a Republican bastion. That card still gets played on occasion. But with white voters receding into the minority in so many jurisdictions, the race card is increasingly viewed as not just an unfair play, but an inefficient one as well (as Hillary Clinton learned).Agreed.
The preferred ploy of Democrats these days is the "class" card. Democrats have increasingly tried to redefine the "them vs. us" struggle in terms of class rather than color. As they tell the story, economic prosperity is a zero-sum game. Income gains attained by the "rich" come at the expense of the "poor." Corporations bestow lavish compensation on executive insiders while cutting salaries, benefits, and jobs for hard-working Americans. A massive flow of campaign contributions assures that elected officials will protect and serve the rich, while simultaneously cutting holes in the social safety net. Tax cuts for the rich not only fuel conspicuous indulgence among the elite, but diminish spending on health services, school, and the safety of the poor. It all boils down to "them" (the rich) vs. "us" (the poor and middle class).
All three candidates for the Democratic party nomination played the class card. John Edwards was the most blatant, enshrining his "Two Americas" vision as the central platform of his campaign. That vision became blurred in the glare of his multi-million dollar mansion and $400 haircuts. Hillary Clinton picked up the Two Americas theme, tirelessly railing against the Bush "tax cut for the rich" while bemoaning the stagnation of the working class. Even though she donned working-class duds and even sipped beer in a tavern, her credibility as the standard-bearer for the middle class was not helped by the revelation that she and Bill had taken in over $100 million in just five years. The "class card" has been passed to Barack Obama. He has used it relentlessly to enlist and energize his supporters. In fact, he has made the Bush tax cuts one of the central contrasts between his and McCain’s policy platforms. Ending the Iraq war and reversing the Bush tax cuts, Obama promises, will cure all of America’s problems.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Bradley Schiller from The Futility of Class Warfare, in the Hoover Institution's Oct./Nov. Policy Review: