OPINION: To Obama: Shun class warfare, exalt enterprise

Class warfare as leadership is a hard sell. It seems that this fact has not yet found resonance in the Obama White House.

In a historical context, there have been governments formed on the basis of class warfare. Their success rate as a form of governance, however, is highly suspect. It is simply difficult to build prosperity based on envy.

Of course, if you are conditioned to the ideology of the left and especially to the experiences and purposes of a community-organizer mentality, class warfare is perfectly justifiable not only as a political tool but as an actual purpose.

The community organizer almost by definition does not need or want the productivity or economic well-being that is created through entrepreneurship.

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Rather, their purpose is to take from the producers and pass to the less fortunate, as they define them. Thus when you elect a government of community organizers, as we appear to have done, governing becomes an extension of their purpose of redistribution of wealth.

It is government by a “chip on the shoulder” mentality. There is essentially no excuse that justifies wealth and no reason why it should not be redistributed in the name of social justice.

It is an attitude that ignores some basic tenets of human nature, such as that prosperity is created by individual initiative, which requires an atmosphere where there is an incentive to take that initiative.

All this being said, we now find ourselves with a president, an administration, a Democratic House minority and, to a considerable degree, a Democratic Senate that genuinely believe that you move this nation forward by tearing down rather than building up the incentives to be productive.

It is ironic, in the face of the failures of the socialist systems that dominated much of the 20th century, that this sort of rhetoric backed up by actual policy would be the default position of the Democratic Party. This is certainly not the party of Harry Truman, John Kennedy or even Bill Clinton.

Using the language of class warfare as your trumpet of leadership is hardly an invigorating way to lead a nation. It speaks in the negative; it divides and certainly does not call to our “better angels.”

If this president wants to lead rather than complain, he needs to appreciate that America was not built on envy but on opportunity. People did not and do not come to our shores because they want to tear up the path to prosperity that America offers; rather, they come to follow that path and hopefully be part of the success it offers. In the process, of course, they reinvigorate our nation.

There should be no more lectures that try to make political capital out of the issues of fiscal discipline and righting our financial ship of state; there should be no more attempts to pit one group of Americans against another for political gain or electoral expediency.

The fiscal crisis this nation faces is real. It demands effective corrective action. We need substantive and immediate significant leadership and action on this issue — action that is not dictated by a reelection strategy.

Mr. President, leave the philosophy of class warfare where it appropriately belongs, on the “ash heap of history,” and embrace what you so effectively personally represent, which is the American characteristic of exalting individual success, not tearing it down.

Move this country forward, through your leadership, on the core issue of addressing our exploding national debt.


Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and also as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee.