We’re All The Middle Class Now

In a long piece in today’s The Guardian (UK), Gary Younge explores a topic near and dear to our heart here at MPH: why do working class voters support Republican candidates?

The key point is buried a third of the way in:

Americans are particularly reluctant to describe themselves as even working class let alone poor. A Pew survey in 2008 revealed that 91% believe they are either middle class, upper-middle class or lower-middle class. Relatively few claim to be working class or upper class, intimating more of a cultural aspiration than an economic relationship. Amy Pezzani, the executive director of the Larimer county food bank in Colorado, explained that politicians are reluctant to refer to “the poor” and “poverty” because it turns low-income voters off. “People who find themselves in these situations don’t want to consider themselves poor. They’re more likely to refer to themselves as the ‘struggling middle class’.

We still want and need to believe in the American Dream. Social mobility is the reason many of us get up in the morning. The dream of a better life is still attainable, or so we tell ourselves. But do we even know how the world works anymore? The quintessential anecdote about this disconnect is the senior citizen yelling at the legislator in a town hall, demanding that the legislator “keep your government hands off my Medicare!”

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