Obama speaks for the middle class -- but who speaks for the lower?

One thing I noticed in the last debate was that Obama kept talking of the middle class, the middle class, making government responsive to the needs of the middle class. Well and good, but why is there nothing in his message about those Americans below middle-class status, the working class and the working poor and the just plain down-and-out poor? Why are we hearing nothing this year about their problems?

Because they don’t vote. Voting takes time and resources that poor people, far too often, just don’t have. When you’re working a minimum-wage job, or close to it, losing an hour, or two, or three, to go the polls isn’t attractive. It’s also harder to get engaged with the issues when you have less formal education.

Further - most Americans think of themselves as middle-class, even when they really aren’t. So it makes sense for candidates to slap that label on their positions.

Perhaps no one (or very few) identifies as “lower class”, and “working class” is not a popular concept in the US. In addition, a lot of people would identify as both “middle class” and “poor” – the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Poor people will also tend not to have mortgages, cars to buy gas for, any hopes whatsoever of putting their kids through college, and various other higher-ticket items, the funding for which are big flashy points of both candidates’ platforms.


Obama’s wish list helps the poor as well as the middle-class. Health care and education spring immediately to mind.

This is the crux of the matter. If you want to appeal to voters, address them as they picture themselves.

Not only from a campaign strategy does pandering to the middle class make sense, (it’s the bulk of America and it’s voters after all), it’s also the best group of people to support in the long run for health of a country.

A common question they ask new managers is where they will spend their resources in talent development of their employees. With the bottom underperforming 10%, the average working 80%, or the top performing 10%.
Correct answer being the 80%. The underperforming will always be there and will take up a lot of your resources leaving the middle 80% to slide. The top performing 10% will take care of themselves. Spend your time and resources on the 80%.

I am not an Obama fan, to me since he’s been in the Senate he’s done nothing but run for president and NOT for the Iraq War.

I noticed his commerical running for health care in Illinois. It says he’s not a man of extremes, let’s just keep employer paid health care like we have it. Again this says “I am doing nothing.” He’s just maintaining what we got. And that commerical fails to address the millions and millions without health care. Yet when I ask people about this, for some reason everyone thinks Obama is a God. Why? He just said in that commerical if you’re lower class with a job without health care, nothing will change. Yet constantly people don’t see he isn’t for them.

It’s a shame he’s gonna win not because he has anything to offer but simply because the economy went bad and people don’t like GW Bush.

Because, sadly, as pointed out above, there are very few votes in it. Also I suspect that very few people actually give a fuck. And that is even sadder. From far too many on both the right and what passes for the left we hear nonsense about going to college to improve your lot, or getting a better job. Or whatever.

The sad truth of it is that those things are pipe-dreams to a lot of people. You’re not going to college when you’re working two jobs just to pay the rent. And your kids probably aren’t either. And let’s say that low paying job is the best your abilities will get you. So there you are, damned to a life of virtual (or very very real) poverty, of no or low healthcare and no real way out.

Something I’ve really noticed since moving to the US is what I can only call disdain for the working class and the poor. I’m damned proud of my own working class background. At 40 I am the only member of my own family to have ever been to university. And I only managed that because it was free. But I still take working class jobs --admittedly my staunchly IWW attitude doesn’t fly well over here and I’m still more at home labouring than in an office somewhere (I held one of those jobs for years and swore never to return).

Most working class and poor people in the US are far too busy trying desperately to make ends meet to take the time to vote. And as you ask in the OP I don’t think they’re represented by either major party. When your biggest worries are keeping some kind of roof over your head, and getting the next meal, you just don’t have the time.

You’re misinterpreting that commercial–I’ve seen it here in Ohio. He says that IF you have employer-provided healthcare, he doesn’t want to change that or take it away from you–he’s focusing on how to get insurance to the uninsured instead.

I think the OP is making an unwarranted assumption: that is, that Obama doesn’t speak for or to the lower class.

Exactly. As one of the lower class, I can tell you that there **are **plenty of people in our neighborhoods talking to we lower class people about how Obama’s plans are going to help us and did we register to vote yet? Health care, education and immigration are the issues I hear the most as I walk by these folks in Uptown on my way to school.

But that’s in person. He’s not talking to us on television much because he’s better able to talk to the middle class on television - catching them riding on the Kennedy on their way into their office jobs isn’t as easy as catching us on the sidewalks. So his campaign sends people out to talk to the lower classes personally and talk to the middle class where they’re most likely to be found: in their living rooms.

Hilary does/did … that’s why she hung on so long in the primaries. Many pundits/wags/etc. point out that Obama is just not trusted by the very poor. Why I don’t really understand – the poor seem to find Obama distant to their situation. That’s what I don’t get. The US president is almost assuredly going to be college educated, be wearing a suit to work, etc. How do Hilary and, for that matter, Palin, generate some sort of “down home” vibe, while McCain and Obama seem to send “I’m so well educated, I must be up to no good” signals.

General Jean Maximilien Lamarque is the only man who speaks for the poor. I thought everyone knew that by now.

To the barricaaaaaaaades!

You will be allowed to live after the conquest–unless, of course, you try to overthrow or assassinate me, or unless your execution would be particularly amusing, or unless you are secretly George Lucas.

To return to the thread topic, I agree with persons who listed Senator Clinton above, and would add that her doing that explicitly hurt her campain. Senator Obama’s indirect way has been better.

Actually, some of us do.

See, this is one of my current pet peeves - people assume that because I am Officially Poor right now I have always been poor. It’s not true - not for me, and not for many others.

I have a college education, a four-year degree, and until last November a job well above the median income level of the US. Then I got laid off. Funny, though - the polling place is well within walking distance despite being in the suburbs, I have TWO vehicles I can use to drive there (purchased during my middle class days), and it sure as heck doesn’t take “hours” to get there and vote - and since I’m underemployed I got the time.

Yep - I think that’s it. Folks such as myself who are taking temporary detour through Poverty Land usually think of themselves as “Middle Class Having a Difficult Year” rather than “Officially Poor”. This is also why some of my unemployed friends refuse to apply for government help they would, at present, find very useful. “Oh, I’m not poor!” No, you just haven’t had an income for six months, your savings are gone, and you’re selling your car to pay the rent. :rolleyes: Apply for those foodstamps, girlfriend, and the winter heating assistance and help with anything else. Your taxes paid for the programs when you are employed, now’s your chance to get your money back.

Working class and working poor are usually considered middle class. Everybody has their own definition because we technically don’t have a “class system” in America, but the way my high school civics teacher told us made a lot of sense. The vast majority of Americans are middle class. Even the ones who think they’re poor, but have a roof over their head, varied diet, possibly tv, phone, etc, they’re middle class. The people who think they’re upper class but still work to earn a paycheck, drive themselves, etc, are still mostly middle class too. The term upper middle class is usually used these days to describe the types who buy new expensive cars every year, live in 7-figure McMansions, wear expensive clothes, eat out at nice restaurants every night of the week, etc, but upper middle class is still middle class.

Upper class are celebrities, CEOs, politicians, “old money”, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, etc.

Lower class are homeless, squatters (have a home but not paying the bills), literally worry about where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep, share housing with many other people contributing to costs, etc.


  1. The middle class is hurting. If we were doing great you’d hear more about the small minority lower class.
  2. Those in rough enough shape to be lower class and know it, and self-identify as such, don’t vote. For one, you need an address to vote in most districts if I’m not mistaken (I had to give my address to register.)

If either of the candidates started talking about the real poor, they’d have to talk about welfare, the prison population, illegal immigration, substandard housing, teen pregnancy, failing schools, the lack of affordable child care, drug abuse (especially meth and crack), the chronically homeless.

I’d like to hear them address these things, and I’m disappointed that they haven’t. Where’s John Edwards when we need him?

It would be refreshing with all this Wall St vs. Main St rhetoric(that I am so very, very sick of) if someone would at least mention MLK Blvd just once.