I have been following the American election keenly and what has most drawn my attention is what has not been said.
Obama and McCain are clearly pandering to the middle class in their election bids, which is based on the assumption that the largest percentage of the population fits within that class designation. While the middle class constitutes the largest voting bloc, this targeted approach ignores the working and underclass.
The working and underclass are invisible bodies in a society that bases value on the ability to consume. If wealth equals power, both groups make up the most economically marginalized group in American society.
This is evidenced by the fact that neither candidate deems it important to address any of their specific needs.
There has been little to no mention about job training, subsidized housing, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation, subsidized daycare, or access to food. These are issues that are extremely important to those living on the margins.
Being homeless, or living in a rundown apartment because of the inability to afford the splendours that great wealth brings, does not make one any less American. Yet it would seem as though their day to day struggles are inconsequential.
Just as we routinely march by the homeless our heads filled with busy to-do lists, so do those that seek to lead arrogantly ignore their plight.
When Barack Obama speaks about the ability to pay tuition, and affordable health care, he is not thinking about those whose main concern is where their next meal is going to come from and if it will be safer to sleep on the streets versus risking violent assault at one of the few shelters in existence.
John McCain, with his 11 houses and private plane, cannot even begin to fathom what it is to grocery shop with a calculator in hand, each meal carefully budgeted.
One of the major focuses in the economy is the mortgage crises. While it is terrible that people are losing their homes, what is not considered is that they had homes to lose in the first place.
Families that were living in shelters before this began will now have an even harder time trying to secure housing. As the population of the working and under class increases can we really still afford to pretend that they do not exist?
America likes to imagine itself as land of the white picket fence, family dog and 2.1 kids; but the reality could not be a more stark contrast. Many wrongly identify as middle class and fail to acknowledge exactly how tenuous their living conditions truly are. It takes 18 months from start to finish for the foreclosure process; therefore the rates of homelessness that we are seeing do not reflect the actual level of vulnerability.
Poverty is seen as an individual problem rather than a social one, in an effort to deny that most are just a few pay checks away from economic disaster. For those that are already inhabiting tent cities it might as well be the 1930’s all over again. Food banks which are often the last stop between many and starvation are reporting record low levels of donations, just when their services are needed the most.
The poor and the soon-to-be underclass are what makes up America. No ideology about coming together as a nation, or pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is going to feed and house people.
Therefore, Obama and McCain need to stop pandering to the false ideology of a middle class society and deal with the reality of people’s everyday existence.