Over the course of American history, support for economic redistribution has been the exception, not the rule. In the 20th century, support for redistributive policies emerged as a dominant force in national politics only in the Depression decade of the 1930s; it was intermittently influential from 1945 to 1965.
More recently, a 2008 study of public attitudes during periods of mounting inequality found that “when inequality in America rises, the public responds with increased conservative sentiment.” This conservative shift applies to all income groups, including the poor, according to the political scientists Nathan Kelly of the University of Tennessee and Peter Enns of Cornell. CONT.
Tom Edsall (Columbia U.), New York Times