Paul Jacob

I’m special. I’ve known this for some time. It was my mother who first brought this to my attention. But now apparently Barack Obama knows it, too.

Why am I so special? Well, for Mom and me there are a million reasons, but the junior senator from Illinois doesn’t even know me. So there’s really only one reason he thinks I’m special: Class Warfare.

U.S. Senator Barack Obama, scheduled this week to officially grasp the Democrats’ presidential nomination, airs a television ad that says his administration of government will “put the middle class first.”

I guess I should feel honored. I’m middle class after all. First is better than last. Or even second.

But I feel something else altogether.

A friend, also a card-carrying member of the middle class, offered only fear: “Look what the government did for the poor, when it was the favored class.” He has a valid point.

Still, it isn’t fear I feel; rather it is revulsion. What Obama is saying is unseemly. It is condescending. It is fundamentally un-American.

Many liberal Democrats, including Obama, believe that old Marxist proposition that capitalist society is divided into distinct classes — you remember all that stuff about the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and the lumpens, et al. And no doubt you recall the classless utopia once established back in the USSR.

In America, we often talk about “the poor” and “the middle class” and “the rich.” Politicians use the phrase “the working class” a lot. It’s easy enough to divide folks by arbitrary classes, but none of this seems very meaningful.

Do the math. The federal government reports that 12.5 percent of Americans are below the official poverty line. Obama’s policies and statements strongly suggest he sees “the rich” as those with annual household incomes of $250,000 or more. That’s a whopping 2 percent of the population. Add it up and less than 15 percent of Americans are rich or poor.

That puts 85 percent of Americans in the middle class. That’s 259,208,396 people. And perhaps more — a national poll by the Pew Research Center found 91 percent of Americans self-identify as middle class (including those claiming they were upper middle and lower middle, as well as middle middle).

So as perks go, it’s nice that Obama wants to cater to us middle class Americans, but being “put first” isn’t nearly as good a deal if you have 85 percent of the country “put first” with you. If there’s a line to stand in at some government bureau and the rich and poor folks have to give up their place in line — big deal! You’re still fighting for the spot with 259,208,395 other good middle class people.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.