A Memo to Joe Biden From the Middle Class
By: David Bozeman
I guess I qualify. Though a two-story house in the suburbs has eluded me, I am by no means impoverished. But therein lies my point — I do not know where I rank economically, at least not down to the dollar. Furthermore, with a focus on long-range financial independence, it really doesn’t matter.
The most annoying aspects of Vice-President Biden’s debate performance were not his smirks, interruptions and condescending air but rather his numerous references to the middle class. His chest-pounding blather about dedicating his life to leveling the playing field typifies what makes political discourse so lame and predictable. Even conservatives take that all-too easy path, a.k.a. pandering, as if unaware that, Constitutionally, government’s role is to ensure equal justice under the law for every American, not to promote the economic interests of one segment of society over another.
Middle-class Americans are, indeed, hurting, but not because the rich aren’t taxed enough, rather, the federal government is too big and spends way too much. To truly feel the American pulse, maybe the vice-president would consider spending some time with those out there who actually punch a time clock for a living to subsidize his so-called noble intentions. Talk with them on break or at lunch and, granted, you will hear them ripping on management or even cursing ‘the man.’ Class and status resentment (whether justified or not), being traits of human nature, exist in even the freest and most prosperous societies. But here in the US, only to a degree. However much politicians try to exploit their feelings, most Americans just don’t view themselves in terms of class distinctions. That tiny fact alone is what separates us from Western Europe. We still pretty much look out for ourselves and our families (and see charity as a voluntary cause, not dependency-inducing social policy), dreaming of faster cars, four-wheelers and big-screen TV’s. To the French and effete Washington-New York-Ivy League liberals, Americans are a gauche, consumption-oriented blight on the environment, occasionally big on sympathy but woefully short on solidarity with the cause of class struggle championed by President Obama, Biden and others.
Most Americans just don’t hate the wealthy. They want to BE the wealthy. Chatter in the break-room typically concerns, for example, the owner of a diner in the next county who earned millions marketing his own barbeque sauce. A CNBC biography of Colonel Sanders of KFC fame will inspire animated discussion the following day. Even a profile of the Heinz Ketchup dynasty can lift more dreams than the monthly documentaries our culture produces regaling the ideals and legacy of the Kennedy family.
In short, it is not wealth that working Americans disdain, it is snobbery. And not just of the rich but the condescending tone of politicians who think this country thrives on their benevolent bullying tactics. The American worker simply wants recognition and to be inspired. Democrats may well carry the day this November, but, fortunately, the idea of class identity and struggle just doesn’t fly in the good ol’ USA. One’s economic status is not the lifetime sentence it is elsewhere, but more importantly, the ties that bind us are ideas, one of them being that it takes ALL of us to make this country work. America is still great because we adhere, if not to the letter but in spirit, to the ideals of 1776 and not to the gas-bag pieties of one Joe Biden.