The Weekly Standard’s Irwin Stelzer tells us:
Barack Obama might be on to something. He has brought class warfare to American politics. Well, revived it anyway, after Al Gore rode it to a loss in the 2000 presidential election. In fact, America has seen such outbreaks from time to time, most notably when William Jennings Bryan represented the debtor class by calling for a debased currency in his “You shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold” presidential campaigns of 1896, 1900, and 1908. He lost all three.
Really? These are the only three examples? Not, say, Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting? FDR’s contrast of “economic royalists” against “the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid“? Nixon’s “silent majority“?
But let’s ignore the successful presidents who harnessed forms of economic or cultural populism to their advantage and instead look to the examples Stelzer gives us. If the only two examples of “class warfare” in American history are Al Gore warning that George W. Bush would redistribute wealth towards the wealthy and William Jennings Bryan warning of the economic harm done to debt-burdened farmers by the gold standard, I would say that the wagers of class warfare had a far better predictive track record than their opponents.