Left vs Right

During the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the media portrayed a “class war.” This “class war” was portrayed as being between “elite doves,” or liberal elites, and “reactionary hardhats,” or working-class republicans. During university student protests, working-class people were depicted as showing up and counter-protesting. These people represented a small number of the working class, although their story is what was depicted in the media. In all actuality, “non-working-class whites tended to be more supportive of the war than were workers.” (Lewis 160) The media is what led to the notion of a “class war.”

During Nixon’s time in office, he used this “class war” to his political advantage. The advantage of the class war came in with President Nixon’s attempt to consolidate the “emerging Republican majority” that he and his party sought.” (Lewis 162) Nixon was able to use this fake conflict to fuel his support. Previous to the conflict the working class was typically affiliated with the democratic party. The group that “became central to the conservative realignment in US politics in the era” (Lewis 162) was the “silent majority.” 

George Wallace, a Democrat, also played into the idea of a “class war” for political gain. Wallace’s main reach of people was “hippies and antiwar protestors. (Lewis 171) Wallace’s used divisive language to further deepen the thought of a two-sided America. The effect of “Wallace’s economic populism and flamboyant Language of class resentment helped to achieve a popular following among Northern urban workers.” (Lewis 171) 

There was a lot that went into this conflict in our political history. I think the source of antagonism can be explained by Lewis’ statement, “This alienation was complex, and it steemed from a number of sources that included intolerance and bigotry among workers, the conservatism of big labor, and deep-seated cultural mores held by workers that were upset by the rapidly changing culture.” (Lewis 181) Other than the anti-war left, all of the things previously listed contributed to the political divide of America in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

No, I don’t think the Democratic Party could have prevented this emerging political realignment. In the article, Lewis brings up a thought of sociologist Jonathan Rieder who “argued that the racist attitudes attributed to many white ethnic workers during this period “were often displaced conflicts of class.” (Lewis 181) When examining this statement, it makes sense this divide stems from racist views. Although it could be easily seen as otherwise and just class conflict. There have been so many political campaigns built on the back of hidden racist thinking. Nixon’s “Law and Order” or Reagan’s “War on Drugs.” I’d also argue Trump’s “Make America Great Again” was built on racist thinking. These political movements are ways white people can be racist without being point blank labeled racist. 

I thought this article was surprising. Sometimes I forgot how dense our political system is. It’s never fully clear-cut on issues. We have such deeply rooted issues that seem to reemerge in every political era.

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