The rich get richer and the poor get poorer but those in the middle can still sway elections.
The 2016 presidential election cycle has brought with it a noticeable shift in how the average American talks about the economy, says Charlie Kirkwood, owner of the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Delaware, Pennsylvania.
That changed rhetoric likely stems from a much more significant demographic shift away from the historically dominant middle class that could rewrite the rules of the road for political campaigns going forward.
Kirkwood – a business owner and two-time Republican National Convention state delegate who has closely followed this year’s race – recently found himself sitting at a local bar when a political news program appeared on the television.
“Within five minutes, two guys who I don’t know – laborer type of guys – were talking to me about income inequality,” Kirkwood recalls. “There is a conversation out there, not amongst particularly sophisticated people, that the average guy is not benefiting and that the Wall Street guys are making zillions of dollars.”
That conversation is not without merit. Study after study has recently shown that America’s traditionally strong middle class has eroded and that the share of citizens living at the bottom and the top of the income scales have grown considerably in turn.