Through all the debates, speeches, and interviews, I had not heard one candidate speak about the middle class in terms that make sense to me until Palin debated against Biden last Thursday.
The political candidates have pulled heartbreaking stories from campaign scripts, depicting the middle class as deprived blue collar workers, hoping to borrow the Visa from big daddy government. Maybe it all comes down to the different mindsets of liberals and conservatives, but I am sick of people talking about the middle class as if we can’t take care of ourselves anymore.
What happened to the America that forged the way through wild and deadly land to make a better home for their families? What happened to the men and women who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps? According to Obama, we lost that ability.
Obama sarcastically attributed the statement, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own,” to the “Republican philosophy.”
Speaking on a purely governmental basis, in the history of America, every citizen, with boots or not, has always been on their own. The constitution guarantees rights — the right to speak, practice religion, vote, carry a gun, etc. People want to argue that the constitution gives us the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” which somehow gets converted into free handouts and health care.
What these people usually forget is that, first of all, they’re quoting the Declaration of Independence! And second of all, never anywhere, in any document, are we ever guaranteed the means to obtain those things. You have a right to it. The government cannot take away your life, your liberty, or your happiness, but they are not going to give it to you, either.
However, speaking on a purely humanitarian basis, poor Americans have never been on their own. Every citizen has the responsibility to invoke that forgotten civic virtue and help those in need. If someone doesn’t have boots, you should lift a finger, search through your walk-in closet, and hand them a pair.
My husband and I were far below poverty during our first two years of marriage. We lived without health care, working part-time minimum wage jobs, while eating angel food and deer meat. Believe me, when milk crept past four dollars a gallon, I nearly passed out. But we held on. We took out loans and grants and finished college. We slept on a futon and lived on a budget.
But we were not middle class! Tax cuts wouldn’t have helped us because we weren’t making enough to pay taxes. We were poor. And in most of the debates, speeches, and interviews, we haven’t been discussing America’s poor. We’ve been addressing the needs of the largest percentage of voters.
In Obama’s Manchester speech, he said “what [the American people] do expect is a government that’s fighting for them, that’s looking out for them. And that’s what they’re missing right now.” Frankly, I don’t understand why any middle class citizen would expect the government to look out for them because that’s not the government’s job. But the thing that disturbs me more is why the middle class expects this.
We’re talking about couples who make $25,000 to $250,000 (apparently according to Obama) a year, not citizens that work a minimum wage job down at Swadley’s Grill, not the unemployed, not the homeless. And yet, even Biden, during the first VP debate, talked about a man who couldn’t afford to fill his car with gas. What was this guy driving? An aircraft carrier?
I agree that we’ve “become a nation of whiners” as former Texas senator Phil Gramm said. We don’t want to pull ourselves up and out of debt. We’ve become greedy and lazy. We take out large loans for new, not used cars, flat-screen TVs, iPhones, and furniture, instead of saving up like our grandparents told us. We buy $300,000 homes when we can only afford $100,000, then pay interest only, hoping a good refinancing down the road will keep us above water.
We want to appear rich instead of living within our means. Then when we’re in the hole, unable to pay for a tank of gas, with credit card companies stalking like zombies for a cut, we whine to the nearest listening ear about how government doesn’t care, boo hoo.