What is especially telling in the Wisconsin standoff between Gov. Scott Walker and the protesting public employee unions is the subtext about the middle class.
Union advocates are stepping up their lip service to the "plight of the middle class." They also claim Walker and Wisconsin legislators, far from reining in the excesses of public unions, are trying to foment "class warfare." (Union activists no doubt swear they would never do such a thing.)
We see this played out in mass-produced "Save the Middle Class" placards brandished at the statehouse in Madison. We see it in labor boss James Hoffa's recent Detroit News op-ed claiming that public employees are being "scapegoated."
We especially see it in former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's recent blog concoction that Republicans aim "to split the vast middle and working class, pitting unionized workers against non-unionized ... older against younger ... poor against the working Middle Class."
Whence comes this middle class that union advocates see as so dependent on them for their livelihoods?
Amid the debate about how to define the middle class -- whether by income bracket, education, social status, ambition, upwardly mobility, etc. -- most agree it includes a streak of independence and individualism.
In fact, self-reliance is the touchstone of what it means to be middle-class.
By that token, people from Peoria to Calcutta qualify as middle class as long as they have the self-awareness and resourcefulness to proactively pursue their own idea of happiness. Not the government's idea of happiness. And not anybody else's.
In reality, being middle class means being less dependent on the government, not more.
And yet Reich manufactures a Republican strategy to shrink programs that the "vast Middle Class depends on ... to undermine public employees whom the Middle Class depends on."
Reich frames the argument so that public unions can claim to represent not only the public-sector middle class, but all of the "dependent" middle class.
When the vast middle class truly is dependent on government, government will own it, lock, stock and barrel, through that dependency. And that will be the end of the American middle class.
Linguistic manipulation of language has always been a staple of the Left. The semantic sleights of hand about the middle class started making their way into the Leftist lexicon around 1970 when community organizer Saul Alinsky realized it was counterproductive to continue sneering at the middle class with its powerful influence on public opinion.
The solution was twofold.
First, the Left needed to incorporate and manipulate the middle class into its agenda. By appealing to a middle-class sense of values, including its sense of responsibility to those in need -- playing on guilt -- dependency through entitlements was transformed into a civil right. The Rev. Jesse Jackson's Madison speech the other day calling collective bargaining an "enshrined" human right echoes this maneuver.
Second, they needed to cultivate ignorance in America, including ignorance of the facts of history, of the uniqueness of our Constitution, ignorance of our miraculous ability to live free of tyranny.
Former Students for a Democratic Society terrorist Bill Ayers has been hard at work at this piece of the agenda for over 40 years. From Chicago, he still pushes for distorted, out-of-context and dumbed-down curricula not only for our children, but especially for their educators.
In effect, they have enlisted a large segment of the middle class to facilitate its own demise. It seems the game will soon be up -- but for whom?
Stella Morabito is a Maryland freelance writer who focuses on issues of society, culture and education.