Barack Obama cannot run for re-election touting his success in economic matters. That’s mainly because he’s had no success in economic matters. He can’t brag about a low unemployment rate – not when it’s over 9 percent. He can’t boast about the growing economy, which is barely growing and may even slide back into recession. He can’t tell the voters about all the new, clean, green jobs he’s creating, because he isn’t. (Can you say Solyndra?) And perhaps you’ve noticed that he’s already stopped talking about how many millions of any-kind-of jobs his administration has “created or saved” and is now talking about all the jobs his policies have “supported,” whatever that means.
So what can he do? Only one thing: Wage class warfare. Turn Americans against each other based on envy. Divide Americans into two camps: the “greedy” rich who don’t contribute their “fair share” on one side … and all the downtrodden, decent people struggling for a better life on the other.
Pitting Americans against each other simply for personal political gain would be bad enough. But for a president who rode into office on a magic carpet of lofty promises about hopes and dreams to make America a better, post-partisan place, this is truly despicable.
Nothing – absolutely nothing – is the same as race in America, but something like this politics of division has been tried before. Racist politicians in the Old South divided Americans based on the color of their skin – and they did it for just one reason: to win elections. They didn’t care about the harm they were doing. They cared only about themselves.
Turning Americans against each other by (over and over and over again) telling the middle-class (where the majority of the votes just happen to reside) – that Republicans are the Marie Antoinette Party that cares only about “millionaires and billionaires” and doesn’t give a damn about everybody else, isn’t as bad as promising to “keep those n—–s in their place” … but it’s still pretty bad.
And just as it worked (until it didn’t) in the Old South, the politics of envy may work again. According to a Time magazine poll, 79 percent of Americans familiar with the Occupy Wall Street protest believe “the gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. is too large” and 68 percent believe “the rich should pay more in taxes.”
Never mind that the poor aren’t poor because the rich are rich. In fact, if we had fewer rich people we’d probably have more poor people, since rich people are the ones who invest their money in companies that produce jobs. And even if the rich paid 100 percent of their income in taxes it would barely put a dent in the national debt and wouldn’t create a single job. Barack Obama surely knows this. But he also thinks he knows – or at least hopes – that the American people are envious enough, and dumb enough, to buy into his class warfare strategy.
President Obama is smooth and can be convincing. He was once. And he may be again. After all, there are a lot of envious, dumb Americans out there who don’t have a clue as to how the economy works but they’re sure of one thing: they hate rich people. And not all of them are Occupying Wall Street.