Ruben  Navarrette Jr.,

We really are two Americas.

The divide shows up in a recent CNN poll that asked people if they thought the American Dream was now impossible to reach. Fifty-four percent said yes, while 45 percent said no.

How depressing.

There are Americans who believe that this is still a country of unlimited opportunity for those who work hard and sacrifice. And there are others who are convinced that the deck is stacked against working men and women.

There are those who believe that what works against some folks are not the bad breaks, but bad choices such as dropping out of high school or ambling through life without ambition. And there are others who believe that human beings are at the mercy of sinister forces beyond their control.

If you fall into the first category, you're part of my America. If you're in the second, you're part of Lou Dobbs' America.

Having raged against illegal immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs, the television commentator is now fuming over what he considers a "War on the Middle Class," the title of his new book.

As Dobbs sees it, the middle class is under siege by "political, business, and academic elites" who "along with compatriots in the government and the media ... are using their newfound status to keep the interests of the middle class from getting in the way of their own."

The weapons are "greed and self-interest in our nation's executive suites and boardrooms" and the casualties include the loss of jobs, a decline in educational standards, and rising health care costs. We have become a "divided society ... of haves and have-nots, educated and uneducated, rich and poor." And, says Dobbs, the folks who suffer are those who "built this country" and who now struggle with ``uncertain job prospects, insecure financial futures, and the likelihood of a severely reduced standard of living."

This is scary stuff. Not that all this is really happening, mind you, but that Dobbs -- who describes himself as a liberal Republican who believes in free enterprise -- nevertheless has decided to brazenly stoke the flames of class warfare.

What else do you call it when one harps on the fact that ``median family income has risen by 18 percent while the income of the top 1 percent -- the very wealthiest families -- has gone up by 200 percent?''

So what? The reason class warfare never works is because most middle-class Americans don't so much resent the wealthy as want to join their ranks.


Ruben Navarrette Jr.,

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a columnist and editorial board member of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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