In this original, provocative contribution to the debate over economic inequality, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that a strong and sizable middle class is a prerequisite for America’s constitutional system.
For most of Western history, Sitaraman argues, constitutional thinkers assumed economic inequality was inevitable and inescapable—and they designed governments to prevent class divisions from spilling over into class warfare. The American Constitution is different. Compared to Europe and the ancient world, America was a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, and the founding generation saw this equality as essential for the preservation of America’s republic. Over the next two centuries, generations of Americans fought to sustain the economic preconditions for our constitutional system. But today, with economic and political inequality on the rise, Sitaraman says Americans face a choice: Will we accept rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or will we rebuild the middle class and reclaim our republic?
Thumbnail: Charles Booth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
BIO: Ganesh Sitaraman
Ganesh Sitaraman is an Associate Professor of Law at Vanderbilt Law School and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He has worked with Elizabeth Warren for nearly a decade. He has commented on foreign and domestic policy in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, and The Christian Science Monitor and is the author of The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars, which won the 2013 Palmer Civil Liberties Prize. He earned his J.D. magna cum laude from the Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on the Harvard Law Review.