For two decades writers dubbed the 1914-1918 war "The Great War" or "The World War." Then they had to call it "World War I." For over half a century writers have called the 1930s economic wallow "The Great Depression." I pray that we won't have to start calling it "Great Depression I," but political pressures can turn a sharp but short recession into a long-lasting depression, as they did during the 1930s (see Amity Shlaes' terrific history, The Forgotten Man).
Michael Barone, the brilliant analyst of American politics, examines here why Barack Obama is beating John McCain in Pennsylvania: It's essentially the poor plus affluent suburban folks-angered by the decline in the value of their homes and stocks-against the rest of the state. Barone concludes with this note: "The irony here is that voters motivated by anger at the decline in their wealth seem about to elect a president who has promised to embark on wealth-destroying policies." It's illogical that voters will choose the person who could turn a recession into Great Depression II, but this election may be the most faith-based in American history, with faith in Obama winning the day.
One other note: The alliance of rich and poor against the middle might not be as unusual as it seems. During the Great Depression reporters joked that folks in the "working class" were Democrats, the middle class Republicans, and the upper class Socialists.