The Tyranny of Pretend Middle ClassnessHey, here's what we're sick of: middle classness! While some of your elite coastal media obsess over some made-up standard of "authenticity" (Sarah Palin's got it! That's all you need to know!), the new hot trend is "caring about the middle class." This is something Democrats are good at! They used to be good at appealing to the "working class" but now no one is sure how to define "working class," at all really. But we all know how to define the middle-class! It's everyone in America! Because everyone in America self-identifies as middle class, and America is so determined not to become Great Britain that we allow everyone to just make up whatever class they want for themselves (which is why rich people are middle class and young white college-educated Brooklynites are working class and Barack Obama is an elitist). Just this week, in a mostly decent column (surprisingly!), globalist Thomas Friedman lambasted John McCain and Sarah Palin for refusing to agree that paying taxes is patriotic. You see he should know what patiotism is, he is the middle class personified!
Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."
Ok, Tom, a couple things:
  • Every time you bring up your own middle classness, you should probably add "of course now I'm a fantastically wealthy globe-trotting author!"
  • His point about Minneapolis is kind of true. The liberalism of that town is strong enough that we're sure the "middle class" there does view tax-paying as a patriotic duty! But that liberalism does not extend to the first- and second-ring suburbs that make up the huge base of anti-tax Republicans like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, nor does that attitude extend to the "middle class" in demographically similar cities in the rest of the country.
  • Because when you are truly middle class, paying taxes is not simply an annoyance, like it is for fantastically wealthy authors; it is actually a burden. Sometimes it is a great burden that prevents you from being comfortably middle class! You should brush up on your Fear of Falling, Mr. Friedman. Or maybe you should just read it for the very first time, Mr. Globalization Will Solve All Our Problems!
  • Related: when you are middle class, a lot of your money is likely to be tied up in your home! Right now is not a great time for your money to be tied up in your home. (Or in the stock market! Or your 401(k)! Or anywhere but GOLD.)
  • All that said, shifting the tax burden off the middle class and back onto the wealthy, like in those wonderful Great Society days, is a Good Thing that should be done right away. But no one can explicitly say this because we still need to pretend it's the 1990s?
Oh, right, what were we saying? Pretend Middle Classness! Honestly, it bothers us less than Chris Matthews' even more divorced from reality pretend working classness. But it is still ridiculous. It is ridiculous for Joe Biden to go around pretending to understand the middle class on account of his being the lowest-paid Senator and a guy who rides the train every day. Because that train is the terribly overpriced Acela, and Senators make nearly $200k/year. Even if Biden is deeply in dept, like the real middle class, his pension's certainly in no danger. And yes this is just another strain of the deeply misguided authenticity fetish. Everyone please limit your discussions of the middle class to, like, which policy proposals would help them, the most. (But ha ha they can't do that because it's biased to explain that Class Warfare goes both ways.)