Democrats love to talk about the middle class— during the Democratic National Convention, speakers used the phrase 47 times, in comparison to 7 times at the RNC. Here’s the reason why: Everyone wants to be middle class. Lower class Democrats want to be middle class for obvious reasons: poverty is no fun. Upper class Democrats feel guilty about their money— They’ve been a rhetorical punching bag in the left’s fight against tax cuts for the rich. Here’s a video of Barack Obama from a year ago pushing against tax loopholes for the rich: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOi2xVGI358&feature=related
But what does middle class really mean, numerically? The median income in this country was about $51,000 last year, but many people with incomes double and triple that still think of themselves as the middle class. Fifty-three percent of folks believe they’re middle class, but that number jumps to 91% when they are given the option to say “upper middle” or “lower middle.” According to the analysis of that Pew poll, “Four-in-ten Americans with incomes below $20,000 say they are middle class, as do a third of those with incomes above $150,000.” Folks are wary of the implications of identifying with the upper or lower classes, or they have a false consciousness of how their wealth ranks them. Politicians can relate to a wider audience by angling their speeches towards the middle class: this false consciousness makes their jobs easier. So why do the Democrats seem to do it far more than the Republicans? Is it because Republicans are more eagerly catering to wealthy Americans in this campaign?