In response to Don Peck’s September cover story, “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?,” readers looked back on our more prosperous past, assessed the present-day follies of the government and callousness of the super-rich, and offered grim predictions for the future.
A great political realignment is likely coming soon, along the lines of what Don Peck suggests. The foundations of today’s political groupings (strong middle class, strong unions, large religious laboring class, limited campaign contributions) have radically shifted. Many natural alliances have not yet formed. For instance, liberals would make natural anti-immigrant sloganeers (“Immigrants undermine our entitlements!”), while conservatives should be embracing immigration (“Cheap labor makes America competitive!”).
The problem is, neither party seems to be real sure what it stands for at the moment—as exemplified by the Tea Party and President Obama. The radical fiscal conservatives of the Tea Party are willing to undermine national security with military-budget cuts, something unheard-of in the conservative movement. Obama has offered up the sacred cows of liberalism to pay the debts brought on largely by tax cuts for the rich, two foreign wars, and huge bailouts for one of the wealthiest sectors of American industry. The schizophrenic nature of current alliances makes it difficult for either party to offer sensible policy, and gives the extremists much more power in the national debate, because they can at least offer a coherent narrative and a consistent ideology.