As seen in Canada Free Press
War between the classes is a matter of perspective. For the elite, it is about the rabble attacking the Bastille. For the rabble, it is about Marie Antoinette being guillotined.
Likewise, allegations of class warfare depend upon who is doing the accusing. At present it must be acknowledged that President Obama has reversed the fortunes of any conservative now foolish enough to bellow “class warfare.” In just the last month the President and his handlers have cleverly co-opted the “class warfare” attribution and magically reformulated it into its populist evil twin.
Now, instead of denoting the unproductive attack of one “class” of society against another, this retooled appellation is now, once again, a shameless badge of honor for a shameless and intellectually bankrupt Democrat Party and President.
Marx and Engels’ concept of “class struggle,” was reformulated in the 1950s into “class warfare,” a wonderful term for implying someone was Red/ Communist. Since everyone in America knew it was better to be “Dead than Red,” most everyone also knew that “class struggle” was a shorthand term for Communism, and, accordingly, something very bad. No one wanted be associated with such a term.
Unfortunately, some of Obama’s handlers apparently realized that the “Communism”- association had drained away from the “class struggle/warfare” designation, so much so that Obama is now able to capture the hearts and minds of audiences, amazingly, by claiming he is, in fact, a “class warrior.” And, in Obama’s case, this is true.
Somehow, in only the last few weeks, the Left has reclaimed the class struggle/warfare high ground.
No longer can conservatives articulate class warfare accusations as a means of highlighting the destructive and unproductive reality of Liberal designs. Instead and at once, every time John Boehner exclaims, “that’s class warfare” (intending to declare that his opponents are promoting failed Communist economics), he is now understood to really be saying, “I support the rich in their war against you ‘little people’ out there.”
It is time for conservatives and Republicans to give it up. No more will the once clever “class warfare” indictment generate the rhetorical returns so easily collected in the past. Trotting out this allegation is now no more crafty than spitting in the wind. Somehow, it needs to stop.
Having now lost one of conservatism’s more catchy denunciations, conservatives must immediately fashion an even more compelling verbal device to characterize the inanity and destructiveness of the Left. Fortunately, we have a lot to choose from – the Left has been inane and destructive for a long time.
For starters, there is the clarified reversal: “That proposal constitutes ‘class warfare upon the middle class.’” Encouragingly, this quick turnaround is already being employed. It is not being employed enough.
There are scores of similarly clever, but accurate, turns of phrase available to conservatives who go looking for them. Unfortunately, judging from almost any forum one examines, conservative leaders haven’t been looking for them hard enough. Certainly, if they’ve found them, they aren’t using them often enough. Truly, is it really that hard to pick a message, a theme, a turn of phrase, and stick with it, but then, change on a dime when needed?
The Democrats are masters at this sort of theatre. Consider their most recent verbal exercise. The Buffet Tax is advocated on the basis of “everyone needs to pay their fair share,” or, “we’re merely asking everyone to pay their fair share.” Brilliant! This is almost as good as asking a man if he’s ever been caught beating his wife. Heads I win, tails you lose.
The problem, of course, is that these verbal tricks actually WORK. These turns of phrase are like the pieces of songs that get caught up in your synapses – you can’t get them out of your head. They RESONATE and carry with them alliances to even more profound meaning and history.
Liberals are so good at this sort of thing that it seems sometimes they possess a Think Tank devoted solely to constructing sound bites that are as pithy as they are misleading (“Contract on America,” “Voodoo Economics,” “tax breaks for the rich,” “paying their fair share,” etc.). It is important to acknowledge the fact, however, that Liberal political hacks are perhaps so successful at this sort of thing because they aren’t so interested in the facts. Then again, why should they be? They can just “say anything.” Neither the Complicit Press nor fellow Leftists will ever confront them.
On the contrary, the fact is that conservatives are interested in facts – and history, and truth, and principles, and the human experience. Because of this, however, conservatives must surrender a goodly 50% of their otherwise clever turns of phrase – because these turns would not be factual.
All is not lost (though a great deal has been lost). There are, in fact, a tumultuous multitude of opportunities for packaging the conservative message into pearls of “sound bites” for the nightly news. Conservatives are just not that good at it yet. They should be.
Even so, conservatives benefit from the fact that they are actually Right about social policy, government and the economy. Liberty, limited government, and free markets always work. Ultimately, conservative rhetoric is potentially far more powerful than the Liberal variety. Conservatives just need to harness this power.
Conservatives are also blessed with far more credible source material – words and phrases already spoken, already affirmed and accepted, already performed, already credible and respected, already steeped in history and American mythology.
In particular, conservatives can pick and choose from among the countless speeches, letters and publications of America’s Founding Fathers – writings that are invariably conservative AND well-written AND quotable AND playable on TV (they played well when they were spoken live two hundred years ago). Certainly, our leaders’ Chiefs of Staff and speechwriters could stay up late or all night, for a lot of nights, to make sure they’d become conversant in Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Paine, Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights – first 10 Amendments – and the other 17 Amendments). Certainly, they could do even more all-nighters in order to brush up on the conservative classics of our own time such as George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty, Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed, Charles Murray’s Losing Ground, Ann Coulter’s Guilty, and Mark Levin’s seminalLiberty and Tyranny. The information and turns of phrase from all of these sources should be leaping from the mouths of our conservative leaders. Why aren’t they?
It must be kept in mind that our Founding Fathers did not have it easy. They were called upon to fashion a populist message compelling enough to fill the ranks of the Continental Army and to persuade the average citizen to risk his life, his home, his family and his fortune. This rhetoric had to be so potent as to persuade every single one of the 13 colonies that their combined strength could and would overcome the might of the British Empire.
Our Patriot Fathers suffered greater polemical challenges than any imaginable today. Back then, in the colonies, words could get you executed.
Picasso said, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” Conservatives must become great artists. They must boldly steal every scrap of useful rhetoric they can gather from the bounty available.
And, when pondering the wealth of source material available, collective conservatism should blush in shame at having made such poor use of it.
I’ve often wondered why all of our conservative speech-writers and politicians don’t simply pick out their favorite passages and practice them over and over in front of the mirror each day. The material’s already there! All we have to do is pick it up! Really.
Why is it that our conservative brethren, i.e. the ones who “do” politics for a living seem to wimp out on us when it comes to plainly, (preferably cleverly) articulating conservative positions? Why is it that even conservative speechwriters seem incapable of supplying conservative politicians with the succinct wording – easy to hand – that would inspire the average citizen to conservatism and against liberalism? Why is it that conservative “handlers” fail to prep their charges with five or ten well-worded allocutions to fire across Chris Matthews’ bow or Bob Schieffer’s stern?
Why aren’t conservatives capable of rhetorically “self-organizing” as well as the Left, most of whom, for example, immediately fell into the “fair share” lockstep without having to be told?
Each politico could easily list his/her own top ten talking points on his/her website, AND STICK TO THEM! AND SMOOTHLY ARTICULATE THEM!
Geez! We’re talking about politicians here. How can this be so hard?
Republicans and conservatives and Tea Party members need to agree: Henceforth, the term, “class warfare,” is never to be articulated.
Understandably, conservatives might be tempted to hang on to parts of the “class warfare” scenario. Doing so would be dangerous, however. Even if one specifies something such as “the government’s warfare against the middle class” – and Obama as the class warrior against the middle class, the mental image provoked is too easily shifted to an image of a wealthy American aristocracy’s war against the middle class. Such an image is not only inaccurate – it is fateful – we should employ arguments that steer well clear of it.
Perhaps there is nothing more to all of these prescriptions for optimal language and rhetoric than tissue paper and ceiling wax. Perhaps Boehner et al’s speech writers and handlers have ‘been there, done that.’
Perhaps not. And if not, why not?
Regardless, there is no doubt that any further use of the term, “class warfare” will wreak havoc upon the conservative venture. It will also, therefore, wreak havoc upon American prospects in general.
Words mean things.
(Addendum: The most recent allegation against Obamanomics is that it is “sugar-high economics.” Consider, however: This flourish seems wonderful at first. Unfortunately it is maimed by the backlash implication that U.S. citizens are somehow naughty in that they consumed the sugar in the first place. Thud. We’ve got to do better).