You know, the Republicans have been dividing up people, slicing and dicing the demographics, for quite a while now. And the Americans, God bless ’em, have been surviving on little more than McNuggets and optimism for a long time.
I have often made the point that a ridiculous number of Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”. The household income of Americans describing themselves as “middle class” ranges from $20,000 to $300,000. When Bush praised that poor woman who had three jobs as “great” and “uniquely American” … well …. there you have it.
No wonder politicians invoke the expression of “middle class” so often – they could reach that huge group that self-identified as such – whether they lived in a McMansion in Jersey or a double-wide in the Ozarks. The Republicans have for years been able to trick blue collar workers and rural poor into thinking that their own economic priorities were the same as the wealthy, and that what was good for the wealthy was also good for them.
But – when you make a stark distinction between the 99% and the 1%, that is easier to assimilate. Especially when people see how strongly “the market” has rebounded, and how the economy is growing, etc. etc. – and of course those big, fat, bonuses being handed out at a time when so many are destitute – well, that drives it all home, doesn’t it? Someone is doing well, and it ain’t me.
America is a land of riches – and those riches have been accruing more and more to the very top. We have already spoken here about the pragmatic attitudes of Citibank and others toward the American “plutocracy”. Well, guess what — that whole revelation (or simple recognition of fact, whatever you choose) has now, finally “trickled down” to the point where everyone – and I mean everyone except that 1% – gets it.
Maybe I have watched too many Frank Capra movies, but I think everyone in that 99% sees themselves as Jimmy Stuart or Gary Cooper struggling against some Lionel Barrymore character. Maybe things have become that desperate. Maybe there will be a movement, maybe people will come together, and maybe America will change direction.
Living abroad, I see how many people here are just now waking up to the wealth distribution scenario, and the failure of Capitalism as it has been practiced over the past 30 years. I dare say that it all started in America, and I also dare say that many – including myself – look to the US to help fix the mess they got us into. This OWS movement, combined with what has been going on in the streets of Athens, Madrid and Dublin, may be related in a deeper way than we had thought possible. There is an entire generation out there now with little opportunity, and, to paraphrase an old wag, they have “more heart than mind” when it comes to their political proclivities.
I would like to see the US take the lead on this one. The source of the trouble (Wall Street, IMF, etc.) is physically closer to home for them, and the situation is more desperate (Europeans at least have a safety net, health care, etc.). But after a while, McNuggets and optimism will not suffice. As we demonstrated in WWII, once the US public is rallied from its slumber, it can do mighty things. I hope this another one of those times.