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The Insiders
Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 12/14/2011

Class warfare, de Tocqueville-style

Some interesting new data published in a recent Gallup poll suggest the Democratic idea of winning politically by using class warfare may be harder than they thought.

One revealing question in the poll asks, “In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future — big business, big labor, or big government?” The answer was clear: 64% said that big government is the greatest threat to the country, 26% said big business, and last, 8% said big labor. This suggests the Democrats have missed the bull’s-eye during the last three years. And, in their version of class warfare, they don't really offer a class at all but instead a society that is dependent on the government. George Will has warned us about this for some time.

The health-care bill, the giant government bailouts and massive new regulation of energy production and financial services are all inconsistent with how people feel about the government’s threatening presence in American life. The poll suggests that in the 2012 elections, President Obama will either be off-key or silent, after having had perfect pitch in 2008. All of his so-called accomplishments have been big government solutions. His reelection themes won’t be credible if he denies the obvious and suddenly suggests that he’s for a smaller, less obtrusive government. 

Going back to his speech in Kansas, and all the talk about income inequality, Obama didn’t speak about any new specific programs, only that the rich must pay their “fair share.” He never quantifies fair share, but the suggestion is that the “fair share” must be paid so that there can be income redistribution, and more government. 

Alexis de Tocqueville thought he recognized a flaw in democracy when he wrote in his most famous work, “Democracy in America,” in 1835, It has been said, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”

For President Obama, it seems that income inequality calls for income redistribution and an expansion of government. But the Gallop numbers suggest that voters may feel more threatened than relieved by the plan he offers.

 

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 12/14/2011

 
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