Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of Class Warfare

Last night's State of the Union Address was rather dull. The President offered little in the way of anything new. He continued to spin his usual bombast and, while trying to portray himself as a cross-aisle conciliator, continued his divisive rhetoric and class warfare. He even went as far as to acknowledge (and failed to deny) that many might perceive his proposals and language from a polarizing perspective.

As the State of the Union Address and Obama's past record both indicate, class warfare is a key ingredient in the Left's worldview. It is a perspective that relies upon separating Americans into groups—classes—where the supposedly more fortunate have certain responsibilities to members of other classes. The Left tries to portray itself as the defender of the lower- and middle-classes, against the excesses of the uppermost classes. Accordingly, the Democrats attempt to cast the Republicans as defenders of the rich. Naturally, a dynamic develops, a divisiveness and a sort of warfare, of two-sides where the Democrats, from their perspective, try to claim the mantle of defending the average American against Republican-backed elite.

Unfortunately, this plot line is often successfully bought by the media and many in the electorate. But it unfairly distorts the Republican position. The Republicans (at least most) are not defending the rich, but are defending every American's right to own and keep their property.

This is an inclusive agenda. All Americans should be treated the same, regardless of one's income level. Each has the same claim to the product of his work or investment, whether labeled low-income, middle-class, or rich. In fact, the Republican ideology, if allowed, could completely do away with all of these labels. From the perspective of the government and its laws, there should be no class separations. All Americans should be afforded the same rights and should be treated equally under the law.

This stands in direct contrast to the Democratic worldview, which relies upon labels and divisiveness. The Left loves to classify and categorize individuals, grouping them by economic background, race, or other arbitrary division. Each group is then offered unique treatment, privileges, or responsibilities. This separates Americans and creates undue tensions between truly artificial groups.

Grievously, many accept this portrayal of American society. They cannot help but view America through this lens of autonomous and distinct groups, even though there are far more cross-cutting similarities among Americans than there are Balkanized group identities.

Nevertheless, many other Americans see through this distorted worldview. The low-income Republicans that many academics and pundits like to claim consistently vote against their economic interest are a prime example. It is not necessarily true that the so-called rural social conservatives choose social policy over economic interest. Instead many see the Republican economic position for what it is meant to be—a defense of every American's economic interests.

Whether one is rich or poor, it is in one's interest to have a system that believes that the product of each American's work is his or her own property. The government does not, as the Left likes to believe, have an a priori claim on one's income, thus graciously allowing individuals to keep the residual amount after "proper" [arbitrary] redistribution has occurred. Instead, our income and wealth are our own property and we have the right to do with it as we please. Taxes are to be paid to support the essential services that a government must provide, but these should be based on the proper needs of the system and our responsibilities as citizens to meet these needs, not on some arbitrary definition of "having too much."

Obama and the Democrats continue to distort this message, attempting to confuse Americans into believing that somehow some Americans owe something to others. This is simply not true, yet deeply divisive. Americans are in this together. We have one country in which we must share responsibilities and we should have one set of laws that treats everyone the same.

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