The United States has over the years established itself not only as a superpower but also as the greatest nation on earth. A significant number of people across the globe dream of living in the United States and tapping into the prosperity that is enshrined in the American dream. Researchers and scholars observe that since its inception, the constitution of this country has continually promoted the rights of individuals in its society, promoting the aspect that a person can achieve success in life irrespective of his or her background (Greenberg and Page 11). Most people admire the democratic structures that this nation has established over the years to support the freedom of its citizens. Despite this perceived glory of the United States, particularly from outsiders, this country has faced and continues to face a myriad of challenges that undermines its progress as a nation. One of these challenges is the declining middle class, a decline that threatens its economic stability as a nation. In this paper, I argue that the middle class in the United States is in trouble. To defend my answer to my fellow student, I will point out the challenges that the middle class currently faces, particularly with regard to its income level. My argument is inclined towards the fact that the middle class cannot be ignored by the political class because of their contribution towards the American economy. I will back up my arguments with evidence mainly from the recent election events in the United States as well as evidence from reliable sources such as books and institutional research reports.
The role of the middle class in the United States economy is often amplified during the electioneering period when different politicians debate on their plans to create more jobs and as such, improve the livelihood of people within this economic class. Arguably, the Republicans and the Democrats perceive the middle class from two different and almost opposite perspectives. On one hand, the Democrats argued that as a political party, their tenure in power created job opportunities for the middle class Americans and as such, ensured that their livelihoods improved significantly (Fleming 2016). For example, during the 2015–2016 election cycle, the Democrats promoted a narrative that when they are in power, the economy tends to perform better, thus creating employment and enhancing the livelihoods of the middle class Americans (Fleming 2016). To counter this narrative, the Republicans, and particularly their presidential candidate Donald Trump, argued that as a party they had a plan that will create 25 million jobs for the American middle class, as well as reduce factors that threatened their employment such as immigrants (Fleming 2016). Thus, the welfare of the middle class remains as a strong battle ground for both the Republicans and the Democrats in the United States politics.
One of the issues that arise from the analysis of the political narratives of both the Republicans and the Democrats regards whether the middle class in the United States are in trouble, or whether this is just a narratives that is created in the political world in order to win their votes. To respond to this question, there is a need to evaluate whether and how the middle class responds to such narratives. An evaluation of the 2015–2016 election cycle reveals that despite the Democrats arguing that since 2008, the United States has managed to grow economically, a majority of the middle class voters failed to respond to this message (Lyons 2016). One of the factors that contributed to the failure of this demographic group to respond to the message by the Democrat’s presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, was the fact that despite the fact that the economy showed a significant level of recovery, the real median household income was still low, lower than the 2007/08 recession, and 2.4 percent lower than 1999 peak (Fleming 2016). This means that the recovery of the entire United States economic was not reflected in the household income, which remained relatively low. This means that despite creating a platform for the United States economy to recover, the regime of the Democrats failed to address the real economic challenges facing the middle class in this nation. Therefore, it was difficult for Hillary Clinton to argue that her presidency will help improve the livelihood of the middle class, considering that after 8 years in power, the Democrats had failed to enhance the economic welfare of this demographic group.