America the Brave, home of limitless opportunity and individualism, seemed to have no classes.
Indeed, there came a time in the 20th century, when it seemed life was good for all Americans. At least, it seemed so to the dominant white majority at the time. And with the civil rights movement, even minorities seemed to catch up. It was America’s golden age, a happy and classless society realized or in the making.
Looking at the presidential race of this year, however, one is hard pressed not to evoke the term class warfare.
On the GOP side, a billionaire is calling our country broken and promises to make it “great again”. Disadvantaged and disgruntled people have flocked to him in such numbers that he took the Republican nomination by surprise.
Much the same happened with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic nomination contest, except that the Hillary camp was well prepared to tamper with the primaries and thus prevent another upset like in 2008. On the Democratic side, the official “winner” is not the actual winner. (Another difference from Trump: Sanders has workable plans to make things better.)
Be that as it may, on both sides, class warfare from the bottom was on this year. As a Sanders supporter put it: “We are not for the right or the left. We are for the bottom and we are coming for the top.”
So, what happened to the class-less American Dream, to its golden age?
In the 1970’s, business moguls – previously used to having their way, but now feeling molested by government regulations for environmental, worker, and consumer protection – rallied around the “Powell Memo” to begin an organized attack on America’s democracy which would eventually lead to the corporatism subjugating us today. Ronald Reagan was one of their most visible operatives. When, towards the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union crumbled, all fear of revolution was lost and the gloves came completely off. “Neocons” and “neoliberals” resolved to claw back every piece of America’s cake that had been shared with the people. After the crippling of unions and education, plus the corporate takeover of politics, the media, and even our vocabulary, we are now ruled by the club of Everything-Just-for-Us.
Thus, two and a half centuries after the revolutionary war against King George, America has a new aristocracy – the infamous “1%” (mostly one tenth of 1%, actually) – and a new gentry: some 10% situated right below the filthy rich aristocracy and likewise well off and free from financial worries. The establishment politicians bought by the aristocracy serve this gentry well enough, for they too benefit greatly from the rigged society that has been built. Thus, whenever people are needed to man key positions for rigging elections, to fill the seats at party conventions, to attend political speeches, to troll on social media, to fill self-stroking echo chambers on the Internet or to twist the picture the corporate media paint for the public, they are ready to serve. They can even delude themselves that they are working for the public good because – like most people – they do not see beyond the perception bubble of their own cozy lives. To them, their lives represent America, not the lives of the struggling 90 percent or the whopping 50% who are living in or near downright poverty: the majority and much hushed-up, but growing, lower class.
So, yes, class warfare exists in America. It was started at the top, but the bottom has now joined. The war, a.k.a. the “second American revolution,” is on.