For those who are counting, the number of Republican presidential candidates now equals all your fingers and half your toes, while the Democrats are up to three. With all the handwringing over big money in politics, it’s fun to watch everybody publicly distancing themselves from the plutocrats (although not from their money) and pandering to the middle class, which is how 90 percent of Americans have traditionally identified themselves. Hillary has gone a step further and thrown in her lot with “everyday Americans” (notwithstanding the Clintons' reported 16-month earnings of $30 million). The Republicans have jumped to fill the void. “They are the party of privilege,” announced the George Pataki. “We are the party of the middle class.” The myth of the middle class has long been the glue that held America together. It was as much aspirational as real – a belief in opportunity – but as the gap between the rich and everyone else continues to expand, that belief is eroding: almost as many people now identify themselves as lower class as middle class. They are not deluded: a recent report ranks the United States fourth from last among developed nations in income inequality – ahead of only Turkey, Mexico and Chile. And that, a Princeton study concludes, is creating a political system in which “policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans [and] America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”
Maybe that’s why Bernie Sanders is gaining traction in Iowa.