You’ve heard it time and time again in political rhetoric about the foundation of American strength: the middle class. Both presidential campaigns believe that this group makes up to $200,000 or $250,000 a year, which is outrageous when you look at the break down of incomes across the board. In fact, there are just over five million households in America (out of 114 million) that generate an income over $200,000 a year, and that includes those making millions. Middle income is a little closer to the median of the country, which is somewhere around $50,000, with a vast majority of households plus/minus $20,000. Instead going on about the exact numbers (if you’re curious, look HERE - worksheet from the census website), let’s think about why we’re so obsessed with this notion of the middle class.
Every American can be what they want to be, right? Sure there’s enough opportunity out there for all the hard working individuals to achieve some measure of success. The perception is skewed beyond a healthy level. Believing in a better day to come is a wonderful attitude. But generalizing what it means to “make it in America” as some arbitrary financial summit probably will stunt the real growth we should be striving for. Most political points are dead-end philosophies and those who are so worried about the economy must ask how, during these awful times, is it that Americans are spending $370,000,000 on costumes for their pets?
Misplaced anger, that’s the term we must really think about once this election is over. People are screaming and crying about how one candidate will surely lead us toward an end of days. Instead of arguing over which policy makes more sense, the conversation has been reduced to mere childish remarks about how the math doesn’t add up or how government doesn’t create jobs. Federal, state, and local government employ 20,000,000 Americans and indirectly are responsible for the remaining jobs in the country. Stability, a road network for all those commercial trucks, National Parks, incentives, rebates, write-offs, human rights, libraries, bridges, and countless unseen amenities are provided without interruption. These things are not guaranteed for all time. They will require leaders who possess the ability to be consistent and a willingness to be unpopular.
Another term that encompasses a lot of this frustrating discourse is radical individualism. The game of life is not fair. Just because someone loses does not mean they have not worked hard enough. People get hurt. Droughts and floods are a reality. It only takes a handful of instances to disrupt an entire community. Crime, sickness, and frustration exist and persist because we’ve had to learn to do more with less. An entire generation grew up in a comfortable, yet volatile time. This has caused bipolar exasperation for someone to take care of business despite how much harm it causes someone else. But when they see the hurt on their end, it just boomerangs back even harder until people become so heartless that they are willing to kill for land.
So back to the middle class, to middle America. There’s no such thing, at least when it comes to income. Now, when it comes to a group of people that want to ensure a quality of life for each other, then that’s something else. It is far more interesting anyway to hear of plans that are inclusive, but for the right reasons. People easily grow out of touch with what they do not see every day. It is simply true and is not any indication of, or lack there of intelligence. Millionaire politicians cannot pretend to know how someone lives just by meeting them once, or even by meeting hundreds of them two or three times. Leading requires humility and the ability to listen. Many of them figure that if they build up a staff who can remember enough and organize efficient campaigns that they’ll win just by learning the cliff notes. The elections of today are designed to pull quick ones over the majority of people by convincing they that they have their interests at heart.
We are going through a transition. The news media is weak due to their inability to come to grip with the internet. Journalists used to create the standard and today they fact-check. Most of it, beyond any other time in recent memory, is skewed by personalities desperate to become commentary celebrities. Take this into account and believe that better days will come, but we’ll have to work for them. And it will take more than one or two four year terms.