Just as the candidates in this interminable national election, which is financed by the wealthy, have focused on jobs while ignoring income, they have also focused on the shrinking middle class while ignoring the poor. I'll quote from the Los Angeles TImes story Poor go unheard in presidential race (October 16, 2012).
Kathleen O'Malley, whose granddaughter was playing with Starks' niece, said she's working as a dog walker to supplement her Social Security check.
"I don't consider myself middle class," O'Malley said. "I consider myself at the poverty line."
Too bad for her, and for the one in six U.S. residents who live in poverty.
If you've been following the presidential campaign, you might easily have gotten the impression that the poor no longer exist. The word "poverty" was mentioned once in the first debate between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Together, the two candidates made 29 references to the middle class. And in Tuesday's debate, I lost count after Romney reeled off more than half-a-dozen references in a single answer.
In the vice presidential debate, the word "poverty" got one mention. But Vice President Joe Biden and GOP challenger Paul Ryan dutifully followed their leaders, with 33 references to the middle class.
Congratulations, middle class. You're on the radar screen as never before, no doubt because the candidates believe the key to victory is to woo those of you who might still be undecided.
In the first debate Obama said he believed "we do best when the middle class is doing well." Romney said then and again on Tuesday that the middle class was being crushed. Ryan touted a five-point plan for a stronger middle class, and Biden said "my whole life has been devoted" to — anyone care to take a wild guess?
"Look at my record," Biden went on. "It's been all about the middle class."
The omission of the poor from the election discussion is despicable, of course, but it is hard to find any aspect of the Great Bamboozle which is not despicable.
It might be worth noting that those formerly in the middle class do not simply disappear, at least physically. They typically join the ranks of the invisible poor, a place where Joe Biden can't see them.
And while we could wish (and probably do) for a saner world, a fairer world, an "impossibly hospitable world" in the immortal words of Kurt Vonnegut's alternate persona Kilgore Trout, wishing will not make it so.
Thus we Americans are stuck in an insane society which is almost devoid of fairness, a place where, once one strips away all the substance—this is easy to do because there isn't much of it—all that's left is an enormous mountain of bullshit. There are only 17 days left until we find out who the new King of Bullshit Mountain will be.
Thank God for small favors.
Bonus Video — Blind Alfred Reed, 1929