Guest post: How to displace class consciousness

Originally a comment by Jeff Engel on Treats for the Rich.

Class consciousness has been “un-American” since early in the Cold War – some sort of Commie plot. Instead, we’ve had ideological and race consciousness as mainstream, normal, familiar, unexceptional. Any time something rings a little like a class issue, it will either get squelched in popular political discussion, or it will morph into a race/religion/cultural issue.

Manufacturing jobs disappearing? Talk about technological changes won’t get far except among wonks; calls for retraining programs will draw complaints about the “nanny state”; suggestions that the profit-seeking behavior of corporations is an issue will be condemned. But if you can blame it on the differently-complected foreigners, you’ve got a hot-button issue to get you deep into presidential campaigns; if you can suggest that a conspiracy of coastal elites is screwing “real” Americans in favor of their beloved non-Christians across oceans, well, your campaign is set.

Worried about mortgages being in the same hands as financial casino operations? It’s all about growth, see, and job creation, and keeping government’s hands out of your pockets. (And if it makes no sense, well, it only has to fill a sound bite – most voters are too tired from the jobs those creators stick them with to think that hard.)

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