Wisconsin: The Conservative Class War, Part III

Eric Alterman

The conservative class war on the American middle class and poor has seen three stages, with each building on the previous one. The first, begun in the late 1960s and early ’70s, involved the creation of a series of right-wing institutions to undermine the bipartisan establishment and recast its view of reality. Next came a sustained and successful effort to rewrite the tax code to shift the burden away from corporate America and the wealthiest Americans toward the rest of us, together with the weakening of the case for government responsibility for programs that serve the less advantaged. The arguments for these changes originated with the same think tanks and media organizations that were founded in (or helped guide) the creation stage. Third came the final attack on the legitimacy of all groups in society that might prove to be impediments to the new right’s influence. Members of the media, academia, the labor movement and the nonprofit sector were all considered targets, as they were seen to be advocates for causes and people deemed to be beyond the purview of legitimate government action.

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