Untimely Observations

Social Classes: The American Middle Class


A series on social class in America. Upper, upper middle, working, and lower here.

Here they are, the real villains of American society according to the mass media and commentariat: the middle class. The lower classes hate them because they are better than lower class people. The upper classes sneer at them as being unenlightened boobs with no taste, or pious frauds who go to Church on Sundays and appear in Norman Rockwell paintings. Really, everyone hates them because they're the happiest people in the country. I didn't care for them while growing up (as a member of the lower orders), and I didn't for a while as a young adult (as an aspiring member of the upper middles), but looking at them now, they really have life squared away better than most other classes of Americans do. I wouldn't want to be one of them, but I can see where others might like it. In my opinion, most of the independent voters, libertarians and tea party types are, in fact, middle class people. They're the ones who need to be won over in elections: the other social classes are mostly bloc voters.

Since I was always pretty contemptuous of them when I was below them on the class structure, it is hard for me to say how to suck up to them. Probably the best way to gain their favor is to avoid frightening them. Another might be to make them think you're comfortably above them in social class. These are the people who have most obviously avoided the social decay that has set in since the 1970s; there are middle class towns which are exactly as they were in the 1950s. This is why the middle class are so hard to win over in elections; they don't notice a lot of the changes which have ruined society for everyone else. They also don't want to rock the boat. The fact that they are out in the streets protesting indicates that we live in remarkable times.

Anyhow, here's how I break it down:

  1. Don't work too hard. You're in the middle! it's safe in the middle. You might go to school, but it is not important if you finish, or study anything hard. That's for those gosh durned upper middles; wow are they ever smart! Middle class people have jobs -they go to work for money. They do not have careers. They are not interested in saving the world.
  2. Play sports when you are in school. It doesn't matter what; soccer, baseball, football. Sports are fun.
  3. Marry a nice middle class girl from your home town.
  4. Buy a house, make a family. That's what it is all about, ain't it?
  5. Go to Church on Sundays. That's what middle-class people do! Or don't, if you're the type who doesn't; that's OK, too.
  6. Dress appropriately; as in, like everyone around you. Tie if they have ties, t-shirt if they have t-shirts. It is most important for middle-class people to fit in.
  7. Hobbies: church, family, watching TV, watching sports, watching sports TV, sellin' a little real estate, Back Yard BBQ, thinkin' the little woman is still pretty cute after all these years, and gosh-diddley-durn it, you are a lucky guy!
  8. Politics: well, middle of the road of course! Maybe a "Reagan democrat" here, or a "pro choice republican" there, but nuthin too extremey-weemey.
  9. Military service: sure! Probably an Army officer, or NCO.
  10. Habitat: suburbs, exurbs, places where you can buy a house.

Example middle class people: anyone who has a house in a suburb. I am hard pressed to think of  examples of middle class people who anyone has heard of. I do know they like their butter refrigerated hard for some reason. Upper middles don't eat butter, because they think it will give them a heart attack. Working class people are too tired at the end of a day's work to fight with their butter, so we like it room temperature. The upper middle class media people don't portray them well, even when they try to disguise their contempt. An example from Cinema is "American Beauty" -an upper middle class portrayal of middle class life. The middle class rarely get rich enough for people to notice them, so there are no plutocratic examples, except perhaps for Warren Buffet, who is really unusual in many ways (but one with mostly middle class folkways). They are the teeming, faceless masses who make America a decent country. When they become extinct, America will become Brazil. Even Peggy Noonan is saying so in the Wall Street Journal: it is that obvious at this point.