"Class warfare" has been a term that has been typically been used in recent decades, at least in a political context, by Republicans, who accuse Democrats of engaging in such whenever they talk of taxing the rich or, for instance, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire only for those with incomes of more than $250,000.
But there are indications that Republicans may have inadvertentely fired a volley that could trigger such warfare when GOP governors in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere have sought, and in some cases succeeded, in eliminating collective bargaining rights for public sectors workers.
The California Federation of Teachers, which is now pushing for a tax increase on those with incomes of more than $500,000, today released a poll measuring Californians' sentiment on the collective bargaining issue. It found broad public support here for collective bargaining rights for public sector workers (61 percent support, 32 percent oppose).
Interestingly, the poll also framed a question in a kind of class warfare context. It asked likely California voters which they thought was a bigger problem "facing California's budget right now." They were given two choices: "public employee salaries, pensions and benefits" or "the wealthy and corporate interests not paying their fair share of taxes."
The results: 52 percent said it was the wealthy not paying enough taxes, 32 percent said it was public employee salaries and benefits, 8 percent said both and 5 percent said neither.
The results suggest why the notion of "class warfare" is viewed among some as so dangerous: If battlelines get drawn, the numbers will inevitably favor those who are not wealthy.