by Bruce Thornton
Hoover Institution
March 04, 2014
Are we more “polarized” and “partisan” than we were in the past? Political commentators think so. In a recent Atlantic profile, conservative pollster Frank Luntz attributed his cynicism about American politics to the unprecedented polarization of the American people. Luntz blames both parties, but especially targets President Obama’s “message of class divisions, haves and have-nots, of redistribution.” But implication that class warfare rhetoric is something new in American politics is historically false. The clash of rich and poor has been a constant theme of American history since the Revolution, and was integral to the framing of the Constitution. For the Founders, the “haves and have-nots” were the two most important “factions” that in the Constitutional order would check and balance one another so that neither could threaten the freedom of the other.

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