As around 70 percent of Americans consider themselves to be middle class, it’s no surprise that Democrat and Republican candidates spend a considerable amount of time on the campaign trail attempting to make themselves more appealing to this bloc of voters.
One of the most enduring tales Americans tell about themselves is that America is the land of great economic opportunity and that anyone who wants it can make it into the middle class. But the path to the middle class has become tougher to navigate over the last three decades.
In 2016, candidate Donald Trump was able to build an effective narrative about how the great (mostly white) middle class had been hollowed out by elites and immigrants. In the aftermath of that election, reporters scurried across America, telling the stories of disgruntled white men in the heartland who were unable to access life in the middle class.
Jim Tankersley, tax and economic reporter at The New York Times and author of "The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America’s Middle Class," knows that these stories weren’t telling the whole story of how the middle class came to exist and how it’s been torn apart.