Disagreements over income inequality are always present in democracies, but at times the topic submerges. Today, the topic has reemerged and is driving the next presidential election. Wilentz's new book is "The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics" (http://goo.gl/eZNJVT).
Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/sean-wilentz-on-the-politics-of-wealth-distribution-in-american-history
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Transcript - I think a lot of people think the party is no longer serving their interests or their desires. It happens. It's happened before in American history plenty of times. Parties are always coalitions anyway so there's always somebody who's feeling as if they're not getting, you know, not being served well by the party, but it's gotten to be a real cleavage these days.
One of the big reasons, this is 2008, which was a big, big year looking back on it. I mean not only the financial crash but Obama's election. Obama's election really signaled the end of the culture war that had been gotten Republican politics for a very long time and it was going to go over over, continued but really we were going to actions but that was it. And then the crash, in American history the question of inequality has been a perennial. We think of it now as something that has suddenly come up, but it's been a perennial; it's always there the idea that somehow vast inequalities of the wealth in particular are dangerous for democracy. That's nothing new. But the idea can submerge for a very long time and it did some submerge for a very long time and 2008 brought it right back up again with a ferocity that we're seeing on the campaign trail today.
The very beginning of American history, American politics, the question of slavery and race was there from the very beginning and it was actually being agitated with the margins at first, it later become more mainstream. So that's always an aspect of American politics. The question of slavery and it's legacy in American political history. The economics, I mean from the very beginning Washington's administration arguments about how the country should - questions about where the country should be headed? What kind of country we were supposed to be. There was some who thought that by bringing in a moneyed class, by building a moneyed class to consolidate the economy as to how. There were others who thought that power and economics really ought to be decentralized more than just the Jeffersonian view; more spread around. That's putting it very crudely but that's kind of what it was. Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/8iNZHI.
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