Striking Aspects of the Current Election Season Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

striking aspects of the current election season is the extent to which both parties claim to be the defenders of the American middle class. This is a fairly consistent theme in most American political campaigns. Neither party wants to be seen as the party of the elites, but nor does either party wish to be seen as the party of the poor. Even though America as a whole is suffering in terms of a lack of jobs, a lack of affordable healthcare, and other issues directly pertaining to a worsening economy and the great divide between the haves and the have-nots, Americans still like to see themselves as middle class.

I wonder if this is because Americans as a whole associate success with being morally worthy, and being poor with being unworthy. While there is some sense that having rich parents can give people a greater material advantage in life and greater access to elite educational and business institutions, when it comes to being poor, many Americans blame the poor for their own fate. 'Why don't you get a job at McDonald's rather than taking welfare,' they say, ignoring the fact that many jobless Americans need critical skills to improve themselves, and taking a dead-end, low wage job is the surest way to remain in poverty.

Of course, some of this rhetoric about the middle class is racially coded. The subtext of the words 'middle class' often means 'white and suburban,' versus members of the underclass who are disproportionately nonwhite. Even whites who are poor may cling to their status as 'lower middle-class whites' rather than be associated with the urban poor. Given the injustices that have been perpetuated against marginalized racial groups in our society, however, to blame the poor for their fate seems blatantly unfair, and the fear of being associated with the poor politically is a sad indicator of how difficult it will be to find willing soldiers in the war against poverty.

Journal Entry 2

Much has been written about the recent American obesity epidemic. But less has been written about its class and racial dimensions. Someone who is poor is more likely to be over- rather than underweight in America, and more likely to be a member of a minority group. In Mississippi more than 30% of adults are obese, according to one study, and Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee report rates of obesity as high as 25% (Correlation between obesity and poverty, 2008, Science Blog). It is no coincidence that these are some of the poorest states in the nation. Additionally, "the trend toward increasing obesity is most pronounced for adult black females (50% of whom were obese in 1999 -- 2000, up from 38% in 1988 -- 1994) and for adult Mexican-American females (40% of whom were obese in 1999 -- 2000, compared with 35% in 1988 -- 1994)" (Correlation between obesity and poverty, 2008, Science Blog).

There are a number of reasons for such trends. First of all, unhealthy food like potato chips and snack cakes tends to be much cheaper than fruit and vegetables. Within many communities, there is an increased social normalization of obesity, reducing the pressures to lose weight. Poorer people have less time to exercise and less access to safe places to run, ride bikes, or play organized sports. Finally, food insecurity -- or not knowing where one's next meal is coming from -- can cause a feast-or-famine mentality when food is present, causing poorer people to binge eat and not regulate portion size. Additionally, many communities lack access to supermarkets where a wide variety of foods are offered, versus fast food restaurants with their tempting dollar menus. The consequences for the obese are great: poorer long-term health and more limited job prospects because of discrimination. While this is true for all obese persons, the obese within urban locations have fewer personal resources to deal with such health problems. Obesity is increasingly becoming a disease…

Sources Used in Document:

References

About teen pregnancy. (2012). Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Retrieved:

http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/AboutTeenPreg.htm

Correlation between obesity and poverty. (2008). Science Blog. Retrieved:

http://scienceblog.com/14046/correlation-between-obesity-and-poverty-healthy-people-2010-should-increase-attention-on-those-in-poverty/

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