The Power of Class
Power is a funny thing. No one claims it but few are totally powerless. It is thought to be bad form to say you have power. But to me this is the first step toward abusing it. The poor and middle class white population in America does not feel as though they have power. Yet they have more than the minorities. In fact they wield their power over minorities to maintain their position in America. The wealthy and elite wield their power over everyone. Currently in this country the middle class, who feel as though they have no power, ceded their power to the rich. This is essentially the story of the election of Trump. We of the middle class do not feel we have power over the changes the minority population is wielding in America. So in a gamble they have elected someone with the worst power characteristics of the wealthy and elite in the hopes that this will allow them to regain some control.
But the problem is Trump sees only green according to his son. And he brings to the table things such as racism, sexism, and classism. And what he also brings to the table is anti-intellectualism especially concerning higher education, science, and the government workers. These are the people who are challenging the poor and middle class workers to make the cultural changes to allow room for the evolving and growing minorities. More rights for women, immigrants, blacks, gays and others have left the white middle class who have more in common economically and in their lifestyles with the lower classes are choosing to vote for the wealthy.
Of course this is ludicrous. Trump and the wealthy elite will only give crumbs off the table to the other classes. They are very attuned to class survival. Yet a recent article said that the group that is most responsible for not allowing changes to immigration, minimum/living wages, issues around poverty, is the middle class. This can be seen in the concepts of school vouchers for private schools, less taxes, voter restriction laws and etc., It turns out the middle class is all about class survival too. They are afraid to expand the benefits to the lower classes this might contribute to their upward mobility and would challenge their class status. So they side with policies that are detrimental to the lower classes but enhance their class.
Recently, we were surprised that a majority of white women voted for Trump in the last presidential election. But in a new book by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae called Mothers of Massive Resistance that tracks white women’s role in maintaining segregation from the 1920s to the Boston school busing riots we see white women have always had a strain of what is being called Trumpism today. They have always voted and advocated for their racial class. This could be further seen in the feminist movement of the sixties and seventies. It was primarily a movement of white women, and a womanist movement of people of color was formed to address the NOW movement’s lack of understanding and care for black women’s needs. So in a sense if we had been paying attention we should not have been surprised that the majority of white women voted for Trump.
So what does all this mean? Until the middle class becomes less concerned about maintaining their class status in policies toward the poor and lower classes, they will be at the mercy of the elite classes. The wealthy will continue to shape policies that benefit them as opposed to all other groups. They will show for the most part a class unity in dealing with the middle classes. That is why Amazon and other corporations thought to be liberal after the passing the Trump tax laws gave their employees raises and bonuses. While these corporations may be liberal they show unity in assisting the wealthy elite to making their policies look good to the general public. After all the green line of the wealthy elite must not be passed.
It is romantic idealism to think the poorer classes or the middle classes can fight the elite wealthy classes without each other. The power of the wealthy elite is too great. Only together can the middle and lower classes exert their one essential power over the wealthy class overwhelming numbers. That is why the elite right spends so much time igniting the lower classes over issues of abortion (while they still have abortions) or gun control (while their children are in gated private schools and communities). These issues become greater than the economic and class issues and allow other agendas that work against them to be ignored. That is why the wealthy elite class pushes the concept of the American Dream: you will not vote against a class of people who you aspire to. Or as often expressed the wealthy, are our elected and betters. The wealthy elite also promotes the middle and lower class struggles. Keep the riff raff fighting amongst themselves and they will leave us alone. The only hope to make America Dream again is for the middle class to move away from class survival and open the doors to unity with the poor and their causes too.
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