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Both sides play ‘us’ vs. ‘them’

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Updated: September 14, 2012 6:10AM

Class wars? Or the politics of penury? Democrats and Republicans are ferociously exchanging barbs about our money. Those barbs could backfire.

Each side is spending millions on ads accusing the enemy of failing the Cleavers, Huckstables and Bunkers. Each side argues they are the true advocates of America’s middle class.

Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney and his troops flood Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with charges that President Barack Obama and the Democrats are engaging in an unAmerican, crypto-European class war.

Down with health care, the Romneyites screech. At least, don’t let our Leviathan government handle it. Don’t let the bureaucrats tell our beloved corporations where to invest, or accept government incentives (translation, handouts). Corporations are people too, don’t you know?

The Obama-ites retort by battering Romney for refusing to release reams of his tax returns. Romney is a fat-cat dilettante, they snark, who made a career of firing people and shipping their jobs overseas.

Making lucre, or the lack of it?

It’s the 1 per­cent vs. the rest of us. The execution of this “us vs. them” puts both presidential campaigns in dicey territory.

The American Dream promises that if you just work hard, you too can be rich. It’s a myth, but the old chestnut is embedded in our psyche. We dream on. We may scorn the rich, but everyone wants a boat and a Bentley.

So Republican politicians wag their collective finger at Obama, accusing him of being un-American. He doesn’t have a “real” birth certificate. He prefers arugula to iceberg lettuce. He belongs to one of those “weird” black religions. Worst, he spurns success. Success is the American way. (Of course, Obama himself is a wealthy man, a fact that should make the haters really snarl).

Their fabulously wealthy standard bearer loves to make that point.

“There are people who are trying to attack success and are trying to attack our success,” Romney declared last month in a CNN interview. “And that’s what we’ve seen in our economy over the last few years. Dividing America based on who has money and who hasn’t. Who is successful and who is less successful. That is not the American way.”

Now Romney wants to turn Obama’s alleged class-warfare strategy on its head, by attacking welfare reform as we know it. Last week he falsely accused the Obama administration of trying to gut work requirements.

The message: Your president is not trying to protect you and secure your economy. He is sending your overworked tax dollars to those people who don’t what to work. You know who they are.

Americans are tired of being broke. Americans are weary of our broken economy. They don’t want class wars. They want economic progress and productive policies.

Neither major party is delivering.

A pox on both their mansions.

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