Economic Class Is Finally a Presidential Campaign Issue

Election '08

Economic class is the taboo subject in American politics, to the point where the word "class" itself has been made into something of an epithet by politicians deriding opponents for supposedly waging "class warfare." Of course, most often, those deriding "class warfare" are the corporate elite, Washington insiders and their Punditburo spokespeople within the major media institutions - that is, the six and seven-figure-salaried upper class that is waging a vicious class war on the rest of us. At a time of increasing economic inequality and decreasing social-class mobility in America, these people will do anything to avoid class taking center stage in American politics. But as I show in my new nationally syndicated newspaper column today, class is forcing its way into the 2008 presidential contest - and that's a good thing.

Democrat John Edwards and Republican Mike Huckabee are the messengers of class politics in this election - the Huey Longs as I called them a while back. As Reuters today reports:

"Ask corporate lobbyists which presidential contender is most feared by their clients and the answer is almost always the same -- Democrat John Edwards...Edwards' tone and language on the campaign trail have increased business antipathy toward him. His stump speeches are peppered with attacks on "corporate greed" and warnings of "the destruction of the middle class.'...But this year Edwards is not alone. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, sometimes also rails against corporate power and influence, tapping a populist current that lies just below the surface of U.S. politics."
On the Democratic side, Edwards class-based campaign has pushed candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to lately vent more populist themes (though Obama's underlying message remains class-averse). That stands in contrast to the Republican side, where the rest of the field against Huckabee is digging in promoting more Bush-style upper-class warfare.

Reuters notes just how courageous and groundbreaking class-based politics really is. "Open attacks on the business elite are seldom heard from mainstream White House candidates in America," the news service reports, "despite skyrocketing CEO pay, rising income inequality, and a torrent of scandals in corporate boardrooms and on Wall Street."

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