Today's Politicos vs The Words and Deeds of The Founders
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Can Class Warfare Win an Election?

President Obama has adopted a divide and conquer strategy to win reelection. He seems intent on pitting non-whites against whites, atheists against the religious, the gun-phobic against Second Amendment advocates, city dwellers against the heartland, and most important, everyone against the rich. Is this a winning strategy? Not normally.

Even before the Founders created a unique republic, Americans were a different breed than their European cousins. The American colonists had sailed to the New World with little more than they could carry in their arms, and in less than two hundred years they had turned a raw wilderness into one of the most prosperous places on earth.  Philadelphia was the grandest city in North America with a busy harbor and myriad industries, New England ships plied all seven seas, southern planters grew rich on tobacco, trades flourished throughout the colonies, and anyone with determination could own land.  This was the Founders’ world, and even if some never saw fulfillment of all they desired, individualism was already firmly entrenched in peoples’ minds.

Pioneers who ventured far from home across a dangerous ocean were, by nature, adventurous and ambitious.  Unhampered by close government scrutiny and blessed with abundant resources and free markets, ambition and raw energy drove astonishing growth.  Best of all, nobility didn’t have a claim on created wealth. Everyone, independent of station, could participate in any enterprise they chose and own the fruits of their labor or wits.  Our inherited culture encourages us to extend opportunity to everyone. We may occasionally forget the founding principles and misstep, but we invariably return to the path set out by our Founders.  This makes Americans very different from the rest of the world. Private property rights had built a relatively classless society, or at least a society where movement between classes was generally unrestricted. Thus was born the American Dream.

The Founders came from every walk of life, and they worked together to build this great country.  George Washington was a wealthy plantation owner, but his top officers in the Revolution included Major General Nathanael Greene, who entered the war as a militia private and was the son of a small farmer; Major General Henry Knox, a Boston bookstore owner who later became President Washington’s Secretary of War; and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, born illegitimate in the West Indies to a struggling mother who died when Hamilton was thirteen.

Some denigrate the Founders by falsely claiming that most of them were wealthy, yet wealth has never been a disqualifier in America.  The American Dream is that anyone can rise to any level in our society, independent of their station, gender, or race.  The highest achievers in almost every endeavor—whether sports, business, science, or any of the arts—are richly compensated.  To disqualify the rich merely because of their success snatches the American Dream away from everyone.  The American people intuitively understood this and have previously rejected class warfare.

Which bring us to the original question: Can class warfare win an election? The White House firmly believed so until this past Saturday.  Since summer, President Obama has relentlessly pounded the class warfare theme.  His surrogates have made the issue front page news, and Tea Partiers have been displaced by the Occupy Wall Street crowd.  The campaign was gleeful that they had so adroitly teed up Governor Romney as a super white guy, who is a charter member of the despised banker class, and despite his enormous wealth, had paid a pittance in taxes while hiding great stashes of money in the Cayman Islands.  The icing on the cake was that he would look like a hypocrite to campaign against Obama’s greatest weakness—ObamaCare.  This was going to be a slam dunk.

Except … South Carolinians endorsed someone else.  And Mr. Gingrich knows how to channel the Founders and get the populous to embrace the American Dream as originally intended.  The class warfare strategy looked good on Friday—not so good on Monday. The Republican establishment may have been aghast at Saturday’s results, but those with an ear to the ground heard a collective “Oops!” from the White House.

I’m not sure if I fully support Newt Gingrich, but I loved the South Carolina primary results.  Let the race begin.

1 comment

1 Quinn Woodworth { 01.24.12 at 1:00 pm }

I’d like WWTFT site to review American Individualism–How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party, by Margaret Hoover. I’d be interested in WWTFT’s perspective.
Hoover champions individualism and individual freedom. She asks that “Republicans be more philosophically consistent” and to “pledge themselves to the virtue of individual choice applied broadly.” (p.66) She details the contradictions in the GOP platform that prevent the “millennials” from embracing the party. Consider how more attractive the Republican party could be if it fully championed “American Individualism” and individual rights across all issues.


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