You have got to watch and hear this; it is sad. Funny, but I am currently teaching my students about Richard Hofstadter’s class and economic thesis on the construction of the United States Constitution and why the framers feared the uneducated masses. It is a good thing they are dead and cannot watch this clip. Here is Hofstadter’s contention:
My Advanced Placement United States History classes are currently reading The American Political Tradition by Richard Hofstadter. In this historical intellectual work, Hofstadter brings a more revisionist and realist account of America’s historical figures. Hofstadter, much like the Marxist historian Howard Zinn, taught and wrote history from the perspective of non elites: blacks, women, immigrants, workers, and the poor, who all had a voice in shaping the hitherto. Moreover, Hofstadter looked to end the romantic notions often used to describe the traditional white male hero of American culture (or WASP). Here is an example from his chapter on the founding fathers:
Democratic ideas are most likely to take root among discontented and oppressed classes, rising middle classes, or perhaps some sections of an old, alienated, and partially disinherited aristocracy, but they do not appeal to a privileged class that is still amplifying its privileges. With a half dozen exceptions at most, the men who had considerable position and wealth, and as a group they had advanced well beyond their fathers.
One of the things Hofstadter writes about in his many works is that of economic elitism. He described the framers as men who created an oligarchy via the Constitution only as an instrument to protect their wealth and status; he questions the democratic nature of the founders and the Constitution. Moreover, he discusses history as an entity protected by the very men who used it to enhance their status. Here, as also noted by Sociologists James Loewen, Hofstadter is critical about the intent for which elites built this (United States) country upon; he works to do what most textbooks and movies fail to do, eliminate historical heroification of dead white men.
H/T: Mark Elrod