Class Struggle in America?
In recent years, the New York Times has suffered many blows to its status and reputation. But when it chooses to employ its vast resources toward a specific goal, it can still influence the national discussion on any given issue. In May, the Times undertook to revive the issue of class in America by launching “Class Matters”—a huge, multipart series, more than a year in the making, involving a large team of reporters, specially commissioned polling, and an interactive website. The gist of the series, conveyed in the very first installment, is that “class is still a powerful force in American life”—so powerful that, in the words of the Times, “it has come to play a greater, not lesser, role,” accounting not only for individuals’ success or failure in school but for the increasing isolation of the rich from the rest of American society.
This is hardly a new theme for the Times. To the contrary, one can depend on the paper to report dutifully every new study or statistic purporting to show that the rich have gotten richer in America while the poor have become poorer. Evidence in support of this proposition is, in the Times’s view, overwhelming; the only puzzle has been the propensity of voters to endorse and bolster this trend by electing Republicans to national office who are determined to cut the taxes of the rich.
About the Author
John Gross, the theater critic of the (London) Sunday telegraph, is the author of Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy (1993) and the editor of After Shakespeare: An Anthology (2002).