By now it should be ridiculously obvious to anyone who has not been living in a cave, or getting all their news from MSNBC (which is kind of like living in a cave), that neither of the two major political parties in this country represents the interests of middle-class Americans.
Maybe that’s because so few of our elected officials are middle-class Americans. According to a new survey by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based think tank, millionaires now constitute a majority in Congress. Out of 534 members, at least 268 have a net worth of one million dollars or more.
Meanwhile, the average net worth of House members has risen to just over a million, while in the Senate that figure is $2.7 million. Is it any wonder, then, why so many Representatives are anxious to become Senators?
The Republican Party has long been labeled “the party of the rich.” Perhaps that’s true. But if so, we’d have to label Democrats “the party of the even richer,” at least in the House, where Democrat millionaires actually outnumber their GOP counterparts (although that trend is reversed in the Senate).
One thing is certain: neither is the party of the middle class.
Nor is either the party of the poor. The Democrats might talk a good game when it comes to caring for the poor and downtrodden, but what have they actually done? Fifty years after Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “War on Poverty” we now have more poor people in this country than ever before.
And what of Barack Obama, that self-proclaimed champion of the lower classes? Posturing aside, his policies have actually benefitted Wall Street far more than Main Street.
Let’s put it this way: If Obama is a redistributionist, as many have charged (and as he has claimed), he must be the worst redistributionist in history — unless he’s intentionally redistributing upward. During his presidency, the income gap has risen to levels not seen in 40 years. Real wages are down, workforce participation is down, welfare rolls are swelling.
How does any of that help the poor or middle class — or, for that matter, help the poor become middle class?
The only two segments of the economy that are doing well, by any reasonable measure, are stocks and real estate — which mostly benefits those who own lots of stocks and real estate. In other words, the very rich. Is it any surprise that, in Obama’s economy, they’re getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer?
Meanwhile, Obama himself has become a multi-millionaire whose bank account is certain to fatten considerably once he leaves office.
It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that either you have to be rich even to get elected in this country, or else our elected leaders are enriching themselves at our expense — or both.
None of those possibilities is exactly comforting.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. Email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit familymanthebook.com.