A do nothing Congress. A Grid lock approach to problem solving. An increasing use of class warfare slogans. Where is all this going? Surely this is not the American Promise. What happened to the ‘Land of Opportunity’, ‘The Melting Pot‘, ‘One Republic for All’, ‘The Great Democracy’, and many more hopeful descriptions of the United States of America? Are they being dissolved in the rhetoric of ‘Class Warfare’ and ideological purity? Reading the newspapers, listening to the political speeches from the left and right and the news coverage of the network and cable news TV you would think so. Even the President never fails to bring issues of class warfare to the front as he campaigns incessantly. Presidential candidates are examined under the microscope of political purity rather than the question can this person lead us out of our current doldrums of economic stagnation and political ineptness.
Divisions in our political parties have grown sharper. Movement of the Republicans to the right and of the Democrats to the left has dramatically decreased the possibility of the conflicting parties reaching compromise solutions on nearly all of our critical problems. The political center is under represented, in practical terms, maybe non-existent. Describing this situation as national suicide in the name of partisan purity is becoming more correct with each legislative impasse.
Since class warfare is the oldest and most prominent divisive force in terms of human civilization, with the possible exception of tribalism, which includes many of the same motives, let’s start our move toward an escape from political fratricide with a look at the motives of class warfare. The basic motive in class warfare is for one segment of the population that represent the ‘have nots’ to take away some the privileges and wealth of the other group representing the ‘haves’ until everyone has an equal share. This ideology has always worked from the premise that the amount of wealth in any society is fixed. To give the ‘have nots’ more, wealth must be taken from the ‘haves’. The followers of the class warfare theory have always rejected the opposing premise that wealth is expandable and a greater share for the ‘have nots’ can come from created wealth. This sharing of wealth premise depends on equal opportunity for each individual to have a chance of improving their relative position in their society. Leveling the playing field does not mean there will not be winners and losers. It means everyone has a chance for a bigger share of the community’s wealth. The level of success each individual achieves depends on ability, hard work, and a degree of luck.
To move away from the dangers of a national class warfare struggle, we must all help change the metrics of the debate. Reject the slogans and sound bites of one class against another, including the rantings that the ‘middle class’ must be the recipient of all things. Recognize that there is an inequality of performance in striving for material gain and that in the field of life, as in the field of sports there are winners and those who lose. Reassert that wealth and material holdings are only one measure of success among many. Search for areas of agreement in solving problems and settling disputes. Work on personal tolerance of other viewpoints. Constantly work for improving the field of equal opportunity, understanding there will always be different levels of success.